Skip to main content

Full text of "Birth control : a statement of Christian doctrine against the Neo-Malthusians"

See other formats

SfarxrJbusr (Carxrlit^ CmrWrrt) 

Digitized by the Internet Arciiive 

in 2007 witii funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



A Statement of Christian Doctrine 

against the Neo-Malthusians by 


M.D. (Edin.) 


Harding &' More Ltd 

The Ambrosden Press 
119 High Holborn, London, W.C.i 





{a) In the Suez Canal Zone . 
{b) In "Closed Countries'' like 




{a) Malthus . . . . i 

{h) The Neo-Malthusians . . 3 


[a) That Population progresses geo- 
metrically .... 4 

{h) That Food Supply progresses 

arithmetically ... 4 

{c) That Overpopulation is the 

cause of Poverty and Disease 5 










(a) Disease 

(b) War . 








(a) Famines 

(b) Abundance 

(c) Wages .... 

CAUSES .... 

(a) Under-development 

(b) Severance of the Inhabitants 

from the Soil 


RATE ..... 

(a) Malthusianism is an attack 

on the Poor 

(b) A Hindrance to Reform . 

(c) A Quack Remedy for Poverty 














STATISTICS . . . . • 38 

(a) Canada .... 39 

(b) Connaught . . . '39 


LOW DEATH-RATE . . . . 40 















REVIVED ..... 65 

§ 2. MR. pell's generalisations CRITICISED 66 

§ 3. THE LAW OF DECLINE ... 69 


{a) Moral Catastrophe in Ancient 

Greece .... 70 

(h) The Physical Catastrophe in- 
duced by Selfishness . . 72 






NATURAL LAW .... 77 








A Cause of Sterility- 
Fibroid Tumours 









{a) Affecting the Young . .100 

{b) Exposing the Poor to Experiment loi 

(r) Tending towards the Servile 

State . . . .102 


{a) There is a Limit to lowering the 

Death-rate . . . .103 

{h) Birth Control tends to ex- 
tinguish the Birth-rate . 105 

{c) A Danger to the Empire . 106 

{d) The Dangers of Small Families. 115 








NATURE ..... 123 



TANT CHURCHES . . . .127 








DEMNED . . . . .150 


CONTROL . . . . .152 

§5. CONCLUSION . . . . • 155 






BIRTH control, in the sense of the preven- 
tion of pregnancy hy chemical, mechanical, 
or other artificial means, is being widely 
advocated as a sure method of lessening poverty 
and of increasing the physical and mental health 
of the nation. It is, therefore, advisable to exa- 
mine these claims and the grounds on which 
they are based. The following investigation will 
prove that the propaganda throughout Western 
Europe and America in favour of artificial birth 
control is based on a mere assumption, bolstered 
up by economic and statistical fallacies ; that 
Malthusian teaching is contrary to reason and to 
fact ; that Neo-Malthusian practices are disas- 
trous alike to nations and to individuals ; and that 
those practices are in themselves an offence against 
the Law of Nature, whereby the Divine Will is 
expressed in creation. 

(a) Malthus 

The Rev. Thomas Malthus, M.A., in 1798 

published his Essay on the Principle of Population^ 
His pamphlet was an answer to Condorcet and 
Godwin, who held that vice and poverty were the 
result of human institutions and could be remedied 


by an even distribution of property. Malthus, 
on the other hand, believed that population 
increased more rapidly than the means of sub- 
sistence, and consequently that vice and poverty 
were always due to overpopulation and not to any 
particular form of society or of government. He 
stated that owing to the relatively slow rate at 
which the food supply of countries was increased, 
a high birth-rate ^ inevitably led to all the evils of 
poverty, war, and high death-rates. In an in- 
famous passage he wrote that there was no vacant 
place for the superfluous child at Nature's mighty 
feast ; that Nature told the child to be gone ; and 
that she quickly executed her own order. This 
passage was modified in the second, and deleted 
from the third edition of the Essay. In later 
editions he maintained that vice and misery had 
checked population, that the progress of society 
might have diminished rather than increased the 
" evils resulting from the principle of population," 
and that by " moral restraint " overpopulation 
could be prevented. As Cannan has pointed out," 
this last suggestion destroyed the force of the argu- 
ment against Godwin, who could have replied that 
in order to make " moral restraint " universal a 
socialist State was necessary. In order to avoid the 

1 The birth-rate is the number of births per i,ooo of the 
whole population. In order to make a fair comparison between 
one community and another, the birth-rate is often calculated 
as the number of births per l,ooo married women between 
15 and 45 years of age, as these constitute the great majority 
of child-bearing mothers. This is called the corrected birth-rate, 

* Economic Review, January 1892. 


evils of overpopulation, Malthus advised people 
not to marry, or, if they did, to marry late in life 
and to limit the number of their children by the 
exercise of self-restraint. He reprobated all 
artificial and unnatural methods of birth control as 
immoral, and as removing the necessary stimulus 
to industry ; but he failed to grasp the whole 
truth that an increase of population is necessary 
as a stimulus not only to industry, but also as 
essential to man's moral and intellectual progress. 

(b) The NeO'Malthusians 

The Malthusian League accept the theory of 
their revered teacher, but, curiously enough, they 
reject his advice " as being impracticable and 
productive of the greatest possible evils to health 
and morality." ^ On the contrary, they advise 
universal early marriage, combined w^ith artificial 
birth control. Although their policy is thus in flat 
contradiction to the policy of Malthus, there are 
two things common to both. Each is based on 
the same fallacy, and the aim of both is wide 
of the mark. Indeed, the Neo-Malthusian, like 
Malthus, has " a mist of speculation over his facts, 
and a vapour of fact over his ideas." ■ Moreover, 
as will be shown here, the path of the Malthusian 
League, although at first glance an easy way out 
of many human difficulties, is in reality the 
broad road along which a man or a nation travels to 
destruction ; and as guides the Neo-Malthusians 

1 So says the Secretary of the Malthusian League. Vide 
7he Declining Birth-rate^ 1916, p. 88. 
' Bagehot, Economic Studies, p. 193. 


are utterly unsafe, since they argue from (a) false 
premises to (b) false deductions. We shall deal 
with the former in this chapter. 


The theory of Malthus is based on three errors, 
namely (a) that the population increases in geo- 
metrical progression, a progression of i, 2, 4, 8, 
16, and so on upwards ; (b) that the food supply 
increases in arithmetical progression, a progression 
of I, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on upwards ; and (c) that 
overpopulation is the cause of poverty and disease. 
If we show that ie facto there is no overpopulation 
it obviously cannot be a cause of anything, nor 
be itself caused by the joint operation of the first 
two causes. However, each of the errors can be 
severally refuted. 

(^) In the first place, it is true that a population 
might increase in geometrical progression, and that 
a woman might bear thirty children in her life- 
time ; but it is wrong to assume that because a 
thing might happen, it therefore does happen. The 
population, as a matter of fact, does not increase 
in geometrical progression, because Nature ^ places 
her own checks on the birth-rate, and no woman 
bears all the children she might theoretically bear, 
apart altogether from artificial birth control. 

(Z?) Secondly, the food supply does not of 
necessity increase in arithmetical progression,! be- 
cause food is produced by human hands, and is 

1 To assign a personality to " Nature" is, of course, a mere 
^agon de farler ; the believer holds that the " course of Nature '* 
is an expression of the Mind and Will of the Creator. 


therefore increased in proportion to the increase 
of workers, unless the food supply of a country or 
of the world has reached its limit. The food 
supply of the world might reach a limit beyond 
which it could not be increased ; but as yet this 
event has not happened, and there is no indication 
whatsoever that it is likely to happen. 

Human life is immediately sustained by food, 
clothing, shelter, and fuel. Food and clothing 
are principally derived from fish, fowl, sheep, 
cattle, and grain, all of which tend^ more so than 
man, to increase in geometrical ratio, although 
actually their increase in this progression is checked 
by man or by Nature. As regards shelter there 
can be no increase at all, either arithmetical or 
geometrical, apart from the work of human hands. 
Again, the stock of fuel in or on the earth cannot 
increase of itself, and is gradually becoming 
exhausted. On the other hand, within living 
memory, new sources of fuel, such as petroleum, 
have been made available, and old varieties of 
fuel have been used to better advantage, as witness 
the internal-combustion engine driven by smoke 
from sawdust. Moreover, in the ocean tides is 
a vast energy that one day may take the place of 

{c) Thirdly, before anyone can reasonably main- 
tain that overpopulation is the cause of poverty 
and disease, it is necessary to prove that over- 
population actually exists or is likely to occur in the 
future. By overpopulation we mean the condi- 
tion of a country in which there are so many in- 
habitants that the production of necessaries of 


livelihood is insufficient for the support of all, with 
the result that many people are overworked or ill- 
fed. Under these circumstances the population 
can be said to press on the soil : and unless their 
methods of production could be improved, or 
resources secured from outside, the only possible 
remedy against the principle of diminishing returns 
would be a reduction of population ; otherwise, 
the death-rate from want and starvation would 
gradually rise until it equalled the birth-rate in 
order to maintain an unhappy equilibrium. 


According to Malthusian doctrine overpopula- 
tion is the cause of poverty, disease, and war : 
and consequently, unless the growth of population 
is artificially restrained, all attempts to remedy 
social evils are futile. Malthusians claim that " if 
only the devastating torrent of children could be 
arrested for a few years, it would bring untold 
relief." They hold that overpopulation is the root 
of all social evil, and the truth or falsehood of that 
proposition is therefore the basis of all their 
teaching. Now, when Malthusians are asked to 
prove that this their basic proposition is true, they 
adopt one of two methods, not of proof, but of 
evasion. Their first method of evading the ques- 
tion is by asserting that the truth of their pro- 
position is self-evident and needs no proof. To 
that we reply that the falsity of the proposition 
can and will be proved. Their second device is 
to put up a barrage of facts which merely show 
that all countries, and indeed the earth itself, 


would have been overpopulated long ago if the 
increase of population had not been limited by 
certain factors, ranging from celibacy and late 
marriages to famines, diseases, wars, and infanti- 
cide. The truth of these facts is indisputable, 
but it is nevertheless a manifest breach of logic 
to argue from the fact of poverty, disease, and 
war having checked an increase of population, that 
therefore poverty, disease, and war are due to an 
increase of population. It would be as reasonable 
to argue that, because an unlimited increase of 
insects is prevented by birds and by climatic 
changes, therefore an increase of insects accounts 
for the existence of birds, and for variations of 
climate. Nor is it of any use for Malthusians to 
say that overpopulation might be the cause of 
poverty. They cannot prove that it is the cause 
of poverty, and, as will be shown in the following 
chapter, more obvious and probable causes are 
staring them in the face. For our present pur- 
pose it will suffice if we are able to prove that 
overpopulation has not occurred in the past and 
is unlikely to occur in the future. 


In the first place, the meaning of the word 
'' overpopulation " should be clearly understood. 
The word does not mean a very large number of 
inhabitants in a country. If that were its meaning 
the Malthusian fallacy could be disproved by 
merely pointing out that poverty exists both in 
thinly populated and in thickly populated coun- 
tries. Now, in reality, overpopulation would 


occur whenever the production of the necessities 
of life in a country was insufficient for the support 
of all the inhabitants. For example, a barren 
rock in the ocean would be overpopulated, even 
if it contained only one inhabitant. It follows 
that the term '' overpopulation" should be applied 
only to an economic situation in which the 
population presses on the soil. The point may be 
illustrated by a simple example. 

Let us assume that a fertile island of loo acres 
is divided into lo farms, each of lo acres, and 
each capable of supporting a family of ten. Under 
these conditions the island could support a popu- 
lation of 1, 000 people without being overpopulated. 
If, however, the numbers in each family increased 
to 20 the population would press on the soil, and 
the island, with 2,000 inhabitants, would be an 
example of overpopulation, and of poverty due 
to overpopulation. 

On the other hand, let us assume that there 
are only 1,000 people on the island, but that one 
family of ten individuals has managed to gain 
possession of eight farms, in addition to their 
own, and that the other nine families are forced to 
live on one farm. Obviously, 900 people would be 
attempting to live under conditions of dire poverty, 
and the island, with its population of 1,000, would 
now offer an excellent example, not of over- 
population, but of human selfishness. 

My contentions are that poverty is neither 
solely nor indeed generally related to economic 
pressure on the soil ; that there are many causes 
of poverty apart altogether from overpopulation ; 


and that in reality overpopulation does not exist 
in those countries where Malthusians claim to 
find proofs of social misery due to a high birth- 

If overpopulation in the economic sense occurred 
in a closed country, whose inhabitants were either 
unable or unwilling to send out colonies, it is 
obvious that general poverty and misery would 
result. This might happen in small islands, but 
it is of greater interest to know what does happen. 


In a closed country, producing all its own neces- 
sities of life and incapable of expansion,a high birth- 
rate would eventually increase the struggle for 
existence and would lead to overpopulation, always 
provided that, firstly, the high birth-rate is accom- 
panied by a low death-rate, and secondly, that 
the high birth-rate is maintained. For example, 
although a birth-rate was high, a population would 
not increase in numbers if the death-rate was 
equally high. Therefore, a high birth-rate does 
not of necessity imply that population will be 
increased or that overpopulation will occur. 
Again, if the birth-rate fell as the population 
increased, the danger of overpopulation would be 
avoided without the aid of a high death-rate. 
For a moment, however, let us assume that the 
Malthusian premise is correct, that a high birth- 
rate has ledtooverpopulation,and that the struggle 
for existence has therefore increased. Then 
obviously the death-rate would rise ; the effect 
of the high birth-rate would be neutralised ; and 


beyond a certain point neither the population nor 
the struggle for existence could be further in- 
creased. On these grounds Neo-Malthusians argue 
that birth-control is necessary precisely to obviate 
that cruel device whereby Nature strives to restore 
the balance upset by a reckless increase of births ; 
and that the only alternative to frequent and pre- 
mature deaths is regulation of the source of life. 
As a corollary to this proposition they claim 
that, if the death-rate be reduced, a country 
is bound to become overpopulated unless the 
births are artificially controlled. Fortunately 
it is possible to test the truth of this corollary, 
because certain definite observations on this very 
point have been recorded. These observations 
do not support the argument of birth controllers. 

(a) In the Suez Canal Zone 

In the Suez Canal Zone there vi^as a high death- 
rate chiefly owing to fever. According to Malthus 
it would have been a great mistake to lower this 
death-rate, because, if social conditions were im- 
proved, the population would rapidly increase and 
exceed the resources of the country. Now, in 
fact, the social conditions were improved, the 
death-rate was lowered, and the subsequent events, 
utterly refuting the above contention, are thus 
noted by Dr. Halford Ross, who was medical 
officer in that region : 

" During the years 1901 to 1910, health measures in 
this zone produced a very considerable fall in the death- 
rate, from 30*2 per thousand to 19*6 per thousand ; 
the infant mortality was also reduced very greatly, and 


it was expected that, after a lapse of time, the reduction 
of the death-rate would result in a rise of the birth-rate, 
and a corresponding increase of the population. But 
such was not the case. When the death-rate fell, the birth- 
rate fell too, and the number of the population remained 
the same as before, even after nearly a decade had 
passed, and notwithstanding the fact that the whole 
district had become much healthier, and one town, 
Port Said, was converted from an unhealthy, fever- 
stricken place into a seaside health resort." * 

Moreover, Dr. Halford Ross has told me that 
artificial birth control w^as not practised in this 
region, and played no part in maintaining a sta- 
tionary population. The majority of the people 
were strict Mohammedans, amongst whom the 
practice of birth control is forbidden by the 

(b) In " Closed Countries " like Japan 

But a much more striking example of the popu- 
lation in a closed country remaining stationary 
without the practice of birth control, thus re- 
futing the contention of our birth controllers, is 
to be found in their own periodical. The Malthu- 
sian,^ It would appear that in Japan from 1723 to 
1846 the population remained almost stationary, 
only increasing from 26,065,422 to 26,907,625. 
In 1867 the Shogunate was abolished, the Em- 
peror was restored, and Japan began to be a 
civilised power. Now from 1872 the population 
increased by 10,649,990 in twenty-seven years, and 

* Problems of Pofulation, p. 3812. 

* T^he Malthnsian, July 15, 1921. 


" during the period between 1897 and 1907 the 
populationreceived an increment of ii*6 per cent., 
whereas the food-producing area increased by only 
4' 4 per cent. . . . According to Professor Mori- 
moro, the cost of living is now so high in Japan 
that 98 per cent, of the people do not get enough 
to eat." From these facts certain obvious deduc- 
tions may be made. So long as Japan was a closed 
country her population remained stationary. 
When she became a civilised industrial power the 
mass of her people became poorer, the birth-rate 
rose, and the population increased, this last result 
being the real problem to-day in the Far East. 
In face of these facts it is sheer comedy to learn 
that our Malthusians are sending a woman to 
preach birth control amongst the Japanese ! Do 
they really believe that for over a hundred years 
Japan, unlike most semi-barbaric countries, prac- 
tised birth control, and that when she became 
civilised she refused, unlike most civilised countries, 
to continue this practice ? There is surely a limit 
to human credulity. 

The truth appears to be that in closed countries 
the population remains more or less stationary, 
that Nature herself checks the birth-rate without 
the aid of artificial birth control, and that birth- 
rates and death-rates are independently related 
to the means of subsistence. 


During the past century the population of 
Europe increased by about 160,000,000, but it is 
utterly unreasonable to assume that this rate of 


increase will be maintained during the present 
century. It would be as sensible to argue that 
because a child is four feet high at the age of ten 
he will be eight feet high at the age of twenty. 
Moreover, there is evidence that, apart altogether 
from vice, the fertility of a nation is reduced 
at every step in civilisation. The cause of this 
reduction in fertility is unknown. It is probably 
a reaction to many complex influences, and pos- 
sibly associated with the vast growth of great 
cities. This decline in the fertility of a com- 
munity is a natural protection against the pos- 
sibility of overpopulation ; but, on the other 
hand, there is a point beyond which any further 
decline in fertility will bring a community within 
sight of depopulation and of extinction. 


It is a fallacy to say that overpopulation is the 
cause of poverty and disease, and that for the 
simple reason that overpopulation has not yet 
occurred. For the growth of a nation we assume 
that the birth-rate should exceed the death-rate 
by from 10 to 20 per thousand, and it is obvious 
that in a closed country the evil of overpopulation 
might appear in a comparatively short time. The 
natural remedies in the past have been emigration 
and colonisation. According to the birth con- 
trollers these remedies are only temporary, because 
sooner or later all colonies and eventually the earth 
itself will be overpopulated. At the British Associa- 
tion Meeting in 1890 the population of the earth 
was said to be 1,500 millions, and it was calculated 


that only 6,000 millions could live on the earth. 
This means that if the birth-rate throughout the 
world exceeded the death-rate by only 8 per 
thousand, the earth would be overpopulated 
within 200 years. It is probable that in these 
calculations the capacity of the earth to sustain 
human life has been underestimated ; that the 
earth could support not four times but sixteen 
times its present population ; and that the latter 
figure could be still further increased by the 
progress of inventions. But, apart altogether 
from the accuracy of these figures, the danger of 
overpopulation is nothing more or less than a myth. 
Indeed, the end of the world, a philosophic and 
scientific certitude, is a more imminent event than 
its overpopulation. 


Before speculating on what might happen in 
the future, it is well to recollect what has happened 
in the past. The earth has been inhabited for 
thousands of years, and modern research has re- 
vealed the remains of many ancient civilisations 
that have perished. For example, there were the 
great nations of Cambodia and of Guatemala. In 
Crete, about 2000 B.C., there existed a civilisation 
where women were dressed as are this evening 
the women of London and Paris. That civilisa- 
tion perished, and even its language cannot now 
be deciphered. Why did these civilisations perish? 
Surely this momentous question should take pre- 
cedence over barren discussions as to whether there 
will be sufficient food on the land or in the sea 


for the inhabitants of the world in 200 years' time. 
How came it about that these ancient nations did 
not double their numbers every fifty years and 
fill up the earth long ago ? 

The answer is that they were overcome and 
annihilated by the incidence of one or other of 
two dangers that threaten every civilisation, in- 
cluding our own. These dangers are certain 
physical and moral catastrophes, against which 
there is only one form of natural insurance, 
namely, a birth-rate that adequately exceeds 
the death-rate. They help to illustrate further 
the fallacy of the overpopulation scare. 

The following is a general outline of these dan- 
gers, and in a later chapter (p. 70) I shall quote 
an example of how they have operated in the past. 


Deaths from famine, floods, earthquakes, and 
volcanic eruptions are confined to comparatively 
small areas, and the two physical catastrophes 
that may seriously threaten a civilisation may be 
reduced to endemic disease and war. 

(a) Disease 

Disease, in the form of malaria, contributed to 
the fall of ancient Greece and Rome. In the 
fourteenth century 25,000,000 people, one-quarter 
of the population of Europe, were exterminated by 
plague, the " Black Death," and in the sixteenth 
century smallpox depopulated Spanish America. 
Although these particular diseases have lost much 
of their power owing to the progress of medical 


science, we have no right to assume that disease 
in general has been conquered hy our civilisation, 
or that a new pestilence may not appear. On the 
contrary, in 1805, a new disease, spotted fever, 
appeared in Geneva, and within half a century had 
become endemic throughout Europe and America. 
Of this fever during the Great War the late Sir 
William Osier wrote : " In cerebro-spinal fever we 
may be witnessing the struggle of a new disease to 
win a place among the great epidemics of the 
world.'' There was a mystery about this disease, 
because, although unknown in the Arctic Circle, it 
appeared in temperate climates during the coldest 
months of the year. As I was able to prove in 
1915,^ it is a disease of civilisation. I found that 
the causal organism was killed in thirty minutes 
by a temperature of 62° F. It was thus obvious 
that infection could never be carried by cold air. 
But in overcrowded rooms where windows are 
closed, and the temperature of warm, impure, 
saturated air was raised by the natural heat of the 
body to 80° F. or over, the life of the micro- 
organism, expelled from the mouths of infected 
people during the act of coughing, was prolonged. 
Infection is thus carried from one person to another 
by warm currents of moving air, and at the same 
time resistance against the disease is lowered. Cold 
air kills the organism, but cold weather favours the 
disease. In that paradox the aetiology of cerebro- 
spinal fever became as clear as the means of preven- 
tion. The story of spotted fever reveals the forces 
of nature fighting against the disease at every 
^ Lancet, 191 5, vol, ii, p. 862. 


turn, and implacably opposed to its existence, while 
man alone, of his own will and folly, harbours in- 
fection and creates the only conditions under 
which the malady can appear. For example, 
during two consecutive winters cerebro-spinal 
fever had appeared in barracks capable of housing 
2,000 men. A simple and effective method of 
ventilation was then introduced. From that day 
to this not a single case of cerebro-spinal fever has 
occurred in these barracks, although there have 
been outbreaks of this disease in the town in which 
the barracks are situated. 

There are many other diseases peculiar to civi- 
lisation, and concerning the wherefore and the 
why an apposite passage occurs in the works of Sir 
William Gull. 

" Causes affecting health and shortening life may be 
inappreciable in the individual, but sufficiently obvious 
when their effect is multiplied a thousandfold. If the 
conditions of society render us liable to many diseases, 
they in return enable us to establish the general laws 
of life and health, a knowledge of which soon becomes 
a distributive blessing. The cure of individual diseases, 
whilst we leave open the dark fountains from which 
they spring, is to labour like Sisyphus, and have our 
work continually returning upon our hands. And, 
again, there are diseases over which, directly, we have 
little or no control, as if Providence had set them as 
signs to direct us to wider fields of inquiry and exertion. 
Even partial success is often denied, lest we should 
rest satisfied with it, and forget the truer and better 
means of prevention." ^ 

1 7 he New Sydenham Society, vol. clvi, section viii, p. 12. 



Medical and sanitary science have made great 
progress in the conquest of enteric fever, diph- 
theria, scarlet fever, measles, and whooping 
cough. The mortality from bronchitis and from 
pulmonary tuberculosis has also been reduced, 
but nevertheless tuberculosis still claims more 
victims in the prime of life than any other malady. 
It is a disease of civilisation and is intimately 
associated with economic conditions. The history 
of tuberculosis has yet to be written. On the 
other hand, deaths from certain other diseases are 
actually increasing, as witness the following figures 
from the Reports of the Registrar-General for 
England and Wales : 

Number of 

Number of 


Deaths in 

Deaths in 



Diseases of the heart and circula- 

tory system .... 



Cancer ..... 



Pneumonia .... 



Influenza ..... 



In view of these figures it is folly to suppose that 
the final conquest of disease is imminent. 

(b) War 

War, foreign or civil, is another sword hanging 
over civilisations, whereby the fruits of a long 
period of growth may be destroyed in a few years. 
After the Thirty Years War the recovery of Ger- 
many occupied a century and a half. During the 
fourteen years of the Taiping rebellion in China 


whole provinces were devastated and millions upon 
millions of people were killed or died. In spite 
of the Great War during the past decade, there 
are some who would delude themselves and others 
into the vain belief that, without a radical change 
in international relations and a determined effort 
to neutralise its causes, there will be no more war ; 
but unless the nations learn through Christianity 
that justice is higher than self-interest the follow- 
ing brilliant passage by Devas is as true to-day 
as when it was written in 1901 : 

" True that the spread of humanitarianism and cos- 
mopolitanism made many people think, towards the end 
of the nineteenth century, that bloodshed was at an end. 
But their hopes were dreams : the visible growth of 
national rivalry and gigantic armaments can only issue 
in desperate struggles ; while not a few among the 
nations are troubled with the growth of internal dis- 
sensions and accumulations of social hatred that point 
to bloody catastrophes in the future ; and the tremen- 
dous means of destruction that modern science puts in 
our hands offer frightful possibilities of slaughter, 
murderous anarchical outrages, and rivers of blood shed 
in pitiless repression." ^ 

Malthusians may inveigh against wars waged to 
achieve the expansion of a nation, but so long as 
international rivalry disregards the moral law 
their words will neither stop war nor prevent a 
Malthusian country from falling an easy prey to 
a stronger people. On the contrary, a low birth- 
rate, by reducing the potential force available for 
^ Charles S. Devas, Political Economy ^ 1901, p. 191. 


defence, is actually an incentive to a declaration of 
war from an envious neighbour, because it means 
that he will not hesitate so long when attempting 
to count the cost beforehand. In 1850 the popu- 
lation of France and Germany numbered practi- 
cally the same, 35,500,000 ; in 1913 that of France 
was 39,600,000, that of Germany 67,000,000.* 
The bearing of these facts on the Great War is 
obvious. In 191 9 the new Germany, including 
Silesia, had a population of just over 60,000,000 ; 
whereas, in 1921, France, including Alsace-Lor- 
raine, had a population of 39,200,000. Thus, 
despite her victory in the war, the population of 
France is less to-day than it was seven years ago. 


In view of past history only an ostrich with its 
head in the sand can profess to believe that there 
will be no calamities in the future to reduce the 
population of the earth. And apart from cata- 
clysms of disease or of war, empires have perished 
by moral catastrophe. A disbelief in God results 
in selfishness, and in various moral catastrophes. 
In the terse phrase of Mr. Bernard Shaw, " Volup- 
tuaries prosper and perish." * For example, 
during the second century B.C. the disease of 
rationalism ' spread over Greece, and a rapid 
depopulation of the country began. 

^ Revue Pratique d^JpoIogetique, September 15, 1914. 

* Man and Superman, p. 195. 

* By rationalism we mean a denial of God and of responsibility 
for conduct to a Higher Being. 


The facts were recorded by Polybius/ who ex- 
pressly states that at the time of which he is 
writing serious pestilences did not occur, and that 
depopulation was caused by the selfishness of the 
Greeks, who, being addicted to pleasure, either 
did not marry at all or refused to rear more than 
one or two children, lest it should be impossible 
to bring them up in extravagant luxury. This 
ancient historian also noted that the death of a 
son in war or by pestilence is a serious matter when 
there are only one or two sons in a family. Greece 
fell to the conquering Romans, and they also in 
course of time were infected with this evil canker. 
There came a day when over the battlements of 
Constantinople the blood-red Crescent was un- 
furled. Later on all Christendom was threatened, 
and the King of France appealed to the Pope for 
men and arms to resist the challenge to Europe 
of the Mohammedan world. The Empire of the 
Turk spread over the whole of South-Eastern 
Europe. But once more the evil poison spread, 
this time into the homes in many parts of Islam, 
and to-day the once triumphant foes of Chris- 
tianity are decaying nations whose dominions are 
the appanage of Europe. In face of these facts it 
is sheer madness to assume that all the Great 
Powers now existing will maintain their population 
and prove immune from decay. Indeed, the very 
propaganda against which this Essay is directed 
is in itself positive proof that the seeds of decay 
have already been sown within the British Empire. 

^ Quoted by W. H. S. Jones, Malaria and Greek History, 1909, 


Yet, in an age in which thought and reason are 
suppressed hy systematised confusion and spiritless 
perplexity, the very simplicity of a truth will 
operate against its general acceptance. 

From the theological point of view, the myth 
of overpopulation is definitely of anti-Christian 
growth, because it assumes that, owing to the 
operation of natural instincts implanted in man- 
kind by the Creator, the only alternative offered 
to the race is a choice between misery and vice, 
an alternative utterly incompatible with Divine 
goodness in the government of the world. 



FROM the original root-fallacy Malthus 
argued that poverty, prostitution, war, dis- 
ease, and a high death-rate are necessary in 
order to keep down the population : and from the 
same false premises birth controllers are now argu- 
ing that a high birth-rate causes (i) poverty, and 
(2) a high death-rate. The steps in the argument 
whereby these amazing conclusions are reached 
are as follows. Before the death-rate can be low- 
ered the social conditions of the people must be 
improved ; if social conditions are improved there 
will be an enormous increase of population in 
geometrical progression ; the food supply of the 
country and even of the world cannot be increased 
at the same rate ; and therefore there will be 
greater poverty and a higher death-rate unless the 
birth-rate is lowered. Thus Malthusians argue. 
In view of the false premises on which their 
argument is based, it is not surprising to find that 
their deductions are erroneous and contain many 
economic and statistical fallacies, to the considera- 
tion of which we may now devote our attention. 


The first false deduction of birth controllers is 
that a high birth-rate, by intensifying the struggle 
for existence, increases poverty. In order to 
bolster up this contention, Malthusians quote 
three arguments concerning {a) famines, {h) abun- 



dance, and (c) wages, and each of these arguments 
is fallacious. 

(a) Famines 

The prevalence of famines is quoted as a proof 
of reckless overpopulation. Now a famine may 
occur from several different causes, some within 
and others beyond the control of man, but a failure 
of crops has never yet been caused by pressure on 
the soil. On the contrary, famine is less likely to 
arise in a country whose soil is intensively cul- 
tivated, because intensive cultivation means a 
variety of crops, and therefore less risk of all the 
crops failing. Moreover, during the past century 
famine has occurred in Bengal, where population 
is dense ; in Ireland, where population is moderate, 
and in Eastern Russia, where population is scanty. 
The existence of famine is therefore no proof 
that a country is overpopulated, although it may 
indicate that a country is badly governed or 

(b) Abundance 

Malthusians also claim that by means of artificial 
birth control we could live in a land of abundance. 
They point out that, as the population of a new 
colony increases, the colonists, by applying the 
methods of civilisation to the rich soil, become more 
and more prosperous. Eventually there comes a 
time when capital or labour applied to the soil 
gives a maximum return per head of population. 
Once that point has been reached any further 
capital or labour applied to the soil will produce a 


smaller return per head of population. This " law 
of diminishing returns " may be illustrated by a 
simpler example. Let us suppose that during one 
year a market garden worked by one man has 
produced vegetables to the value of j^io. Dur- 
ing the second year the garden is worked by ten 
men and produces vegetables to the value of ;^200. 
It is obvious that the work of ten men has pro- 
duced twice as much per head as the work of one 
man, because each man has produced not ^10 
but £20. During the third year the garden is 
worked by twenty men and yields vegetables to 
the value of ;£3oo. The total yield is greater, but 
the yield per head is less, because each man has 
produced not ^20 but £1^. The point of maxi- 
mum production per head has been passed, and the 
law of diminishing returns is operating. 

By restricting the birth-rate Malthusians would 
limit the population to the number necessary for 
maximum production per head. Now, in the first 
place, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, in 
the case of a country with various industries, to 
decide when the line of maximum production had 
been passed at any given time. Moreover, it 
would be utterly impossible to fix this line per- 
manently. In the case of our market garden the 
introduction of intensive horticulture might mean 
that maximum production per head required the 
work of forty men. Again, the very phrase " maxi- 
mum production per head " implies sterling moral 
qualities in the workers, and an absence of drones ; 
and sterling moral qualities have never been 
prominent in any nation, once the practice of 


artificial birth control has been adopted. Lastly, 
the Christian ideal requires for its realisation, not 
a maximum, but an adequate supply of food, 
clothing, shelter, and fuel. Christianity teaches 
that to seek after the maximum enjoyment of 
material things is not the chief end of man, 
because the life of a man in this world is very short 
compared with his life in eternity. 

(c) Wages 

The Wages Fund Theory is an economic reflec- 
tion of the Malthusian myth. This theory assumes 
that a definite fixed sum is available every year for 
distribution as wages amongst labourers, so that 
the more numerous the labourers the less wages 
will each one receive. From this theory Malthu- 
sians argue that the only remedy for low wages is 
artificial birth control. They carefully refrain 
from telling the working classes the other aspect 
of this Wages Fund theory — namely, that if the 
workers in one trade receive a rise in wages, a 
corresponding reduction must be made in the 
wages of others, so that a rise in wages here and 
there confers no real benefit on the labouring 
classes as a whole. That is merely one illustration 
of capitalist bias in the Malthusian propaganda. 
In any case, economic science has discarded the 
Wages Fund Theory as a pure fiction. No fixed 
or definite sum is available for wages, because 
the wages of a labourer are derived from the 
produce of his work. Even in the case of making 
a railway, where wages are paid before the work 
is completed, the money is advanced by share- 


holders on the security of the proceeds that will 
eventually accrue from the produce of the 


(a) Under-development 

Even if the theory of birth controllers, that a 
high birth-rate increases poverty, w^ere as true as it 
is false, it could not possibly apply to Great Britain 
or to any other country open to commercial inter- 
course with the world ; because there is no evi- 
dence that the supply of food in the world either 
cannot or will not be increased to meet any actual 
or possible demand. Within the British Empire 
alone there was an increase of 75 per cent, in the 
production of wheat between 1901 and 1911.^ 
In Great Britain there has been not only an in- 
crease of population but also an increased consump- 
tion of various foods per head of the population. 
Moreover, if Britain were as well cultivated as is 
Flanders we could produce all or nearly all our 
own food.^ 

The truth is that in countries such as England, 
Belgium, and Bengal, usually cited by Malthusians, 
as illustrating the misery that results from over- 
population, there is no evidence whatsoever to 
prove that the population is pressing on the soil. 

1 Memorandum issued by the Dominions Royal Commission, 
December 3, 1915 (p. 2). 

2 Prince Kropotkin, Fields, Factories, and Workshop, 1899, 
chapter iii. 


On the contrary, we find ample physical resources 
sufficient to support the entire population, and we 
also find evidence of human injustice, incapacity, 
and corruption sufficient to account for the 
poverty and misery that exist in these countries. 
This was especially so in Ireland during the first 
half of the nineteenth century.^ Moreover, so 
far from high birth-rates being the cause of 
poverty, we shall find that poverty is one of the 
causes of a high birth-rate (p. 69). 

(b) Severance of the Inhabitants from the Soil 

It was not a high birth-rate that established 
organised poverty in England. In the sixteenth 
century the greater part of the land, including com- 
mon land belonging to the poor, was seized by the 
rich. They began by robbing the Catholic Church, 
and they ended by robbing the people.'' Once 
machinery was introduced in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, the total wealth of England was enormously 
increased; but the vast majority of the people 
had little share in this increase of wealth that 
accrued from machinery, because only a small 
portion of the people possessed capital. More 
children came, but they came to conditions of 
poverty and of child-labour in the mills. In 
countries where more natural and stable social 
conditions exist, and where there are many 
small owners of land, large families, so far from 

1 Vide The Economic History of Ireland from the Union to the 
Famine, by S. O'Brien (Longmans, 192 1). 

* William Cobbett, Social Efects of the Reformation, Catholic 
Truth Society (H, 132), price 2d. 


being a cause of poverty, are of the greatest assist- 
ance to their parents and to themselves. There 
are means whereby poverty could be reduced, 
but artificial birth control would only increase the 
total poverty of the State, and therefore of the 

From early down to Tudor times, the majority 
of the inhabitants of England lived on small 
holdings. For example, in the fifteenth century 
there were twenty-one small holdings on a 
particular area measuring 160 acres. During 
the sixteenth century the number of holdings 
on this area had fallen to six, and in the seven- 
teenth century the 160 acres became one farm. 
Occasionally an effort was made to check this pro- 
cess, and by a statute of Elizabeth penalties were 
enacted against building any cottages " without 
laying four acres of land thereto." On the other 
hand, acres upon acres were given to the larger 
landowners by a series of Acts for the enclosure 
of common land, whereby many labourers were 
deprived of their land. From the reign of 
George I to that of George III nearly Jour 
thousand enclosure hills were passed. These 
wrongs have not been righted. 

" To urge," wrote Professor Bain, " that there is 
sufficient poverty and toil in the world without bringing 
in more to share it than can be provided for, implies 
either begging the question at issue — a direct imputation 
that the world is at present very badly managed — or that 
all persons should take it upon themselves to say how 
much poverty and toil will exist in any part of the world 
in the future, or limit the productiveness of any race, 


because inadequate means of feeding, clothing, or 
employing them may be adopted in that part of time 
sometimes called unborn eternity. As a rule, the result 
usually has been : limit the increase of population with- 
out adequate cause, and the reaction causes deterioration 
or annihilation." ^ 

Lastly, there is evidence that poverty has existed 
in thinly populated countries. Richard Cobden, 
v^riting in 1836, of Russia, states : " The mass of 
the people are sunk in poverty, ignorance, and 
barbarism, scarcely rising above a state of nature, 
and yet it has been estimated that this country 
contains more than 750,000 square miles of land, 
of a quality not inferior to the best portions 
of Germany, and upon which a population of 
200,000,000 might find subsistence." • 


In reality chronic poverty exists both in the 
thickly-peopled and in the thinly-peopled regions 
of India, and therefore the overpopulation theory 
is an inadequate explanation. Moreover, there 
are certain obvious and admitted evils, sufficient 
in themselves to account for the chronic poverty 
of India, and of these four are quoted by Devas. ' 

" (i) The grave discouragement to all rural improve- 
ment and in particular to the sinking of deep wells, by 
the absence outside Bengal of fixity of tenure, the land- 

^ Quoted by F. P. Atkinson, M.D., in Edinburgh Medical 
Journal, September 1880, p. 229. 
' Ibid., p. 234. 
* Charles S. Devas, Political Economy, 1901, p. 199. 


holder having the prospect of his assessment being 
raised every fifteen or thirty years. (2) Through most 
of India the unchecked oppression of usurers, in whose 
toils many millions of landholders are so bound as to 
lack means or motive for the proper cultivation of the 
soil. (3) A system of law and police totally unfit for 
small cultivators — witness the plague of litigation, 
appeals as 250 to i in England, habitual perjury, manu- 
factured crime, and blackmailing by corrupt native 
police, all destructive of rural amity, co-operation, and 
industry. (4) Taxation oppressive both in quantity 
and quality : demanded, on pain of eviction and im- 
prisonment, to be paid punctually and rigidly in cash, 
instead of optionally or occasionally in kind, or flexible, 
according to the variations of the seasons ; moreover, 
levied on salt, raising the price of this necessity of life at 
least ten times, often much more ; when precisely an 
abundant supply of salt, with the chmate and diet of 
India, is a prime need for men and cattle." 


As will be shown in Chapter V, poverty is 
generally the cause and not the result of a high 
birth-rate. The Malthusian doctrine has been 
and is to-day a barrier to social reform, because it 
implies that humane legislation, by encouraging 
population, will of necessity defeat the aim of 
those who desire to improve the conditions of the 
poor by methods other than the practice of 
artificial birth control. To a very great extent 
Malthusian teaching was responsible for the Poor 
Law of 1834, the most severe in Europe, the 
demoralising laxity of the old Poor Law being 
replaced by degrading severity. Again, as recently 


as 1899, a Secretary of State reiterated the 
Malthusian doctrine by explaining that great 
poverty throughout India was due to the increase 
of population under the pax Britannica. Now 
the truth is that if the social conditions of 
the poor were improved, we have every reason to 
believe that their birth-rate would be reduced, 
because as civilisation in a community progresses 
there is a natural decline in fertility. Hence : 

(a) Malthusianism is an Attack on the Poor 

Both the supporters and the opponents of 
Malthus are often mistaken in considering his 
greatest achievement to be a policy of birth control. 
Malthus did a greater and a more evil thing. He 
forged a law of nature, namely, that there is always 
a limited, and insufficient supply of the necessities 
of life in the world. From this false law he argued 
that, as population increases too rapidly, the new- 
comers cannot hope to find a sufficiency of good 
things ; that the poverty of the masses is not due 
to conditions created by man, but to a natural 
law ; and that consequently this law cannot be 
altered by any change in political institutions. 
This new doctrine was eagerly adopted by the 
rich, who were thus enabled to argue that Nature 
intended that the masses should find no room at 
her feast ; and that therefore our system of indus- 
trial capitalism was in harmony with the Will of 
God. Most comforting dogma ! Most excellent 
anodyne for conscience against acceptance of 
those rights of man that, being ignored, found ter- 
rible expression in the French Revolution ! With- 


out discussion, without investigation, and without 
proof, our professors, politicians, leader-writers, 
and even our well-meaning socialists, have accepted 
as true the bare falsehood that there is always an 
insufficient supply of the necessities of life ; and 
to-day this heresy permeates all our practical 
politics. In giving this forged law of nature to 
the rich, Malthus robbed the poor of hope. Such 
was his crime against humanity. In the words 
of Thorold Rogers, Malthusianism was part and 
parcel of " a conspiracy, conceived by the law 
and carried out by parties interested in its success, 
to cheat the English workman of his wages, to 
tie him to the soil, to deprive him of hope, and 
to degrade him into immediate poverty." When 
Malthusians enter a slum for the purpose of 
preaching birth control, it is right that the people 
should be told what is written on the passports of 
these strangers. 

(b) ^ Hindrance to Reform 

The teaching of birth control amongst the poor 
is in itself a crime, because, apart from the evil 
practice, the people are asked to believe a lie, 
namely, that a high birth-rate is the cause of 
poverty and that by means of birth-control their 
circumstances will be improved. By one advo- 
cate of birth control this weak reasoning and 
inconsequential sentimentality have actually been 
crowded into the compass of a single sentence : 
" We must no longer be content to remain in- 
different and idle witnesses of the senseless and 


unthinking procreating of countless wretched 
children, whose parents are diseased and vicious." ^ 
It is true that disease, vice, and wretched children 
are the saddest products of our industrial system ; 
it is also true that a helpless baby never yet was 
guilty of expropriating land, of building slums, of 
under-paying the workers, or of rigging the 
market. Therefore instead of preventing the birth 
of children we should set about to rectify the evil 
conditions which make the lives of children and 
adults unhappy. Like many other policies advo- 
cated on behalf of the poor, birth control is 
immoral if only on this account, that it distracts 
attention from the real causes of poverty. In 
Spain birth control is not practised. I do not 
say there is no poverty in that country, but there 
is no poverty that resembles the hopeless grinding 
poverty of the English poor. For that strange 
disease, artificial birth control is a worthless 
remedy ; and it were far better that we should 
turn our attention to the simple words of Cardinal 
Manning : " There is a natural and divine law, 
anterior and superior to all human and civil law, 
by which men have the right to live of the fruits 
of the soil on which they are born, and in which 
they are buried." ' 

(c) A Quack Remedy for Poverty 

Artificial birth control is one of the many 
quack remedies advertised for the cure of poverty, 

1 British Medical Journal^ July 23, 1921, p. 131. 
* Quoted in 7 able t^ November 5, 192 1, p. 598. 


and G. K. Chesterton has given the final answer 
to the Malthusian assertion that some form of 
birth control is essential because houses are scarce : 

" Q)nsider that simple sentence, and you will see what 
is the matter with the modern mind. I do not mean the 
growth of immorality ; I mean the genesis of gibbering 
idiocy. There are ten little boys whom you wish to 
provide with ten top-hats ; and you find there are only 
eight top-hats. To a simple mind it would seem not 
impossible to make two more hats ; to find out whose 
business it is to make hats, and induce him to make 
hats ; to agitate against an absurd delay in delivering 
hats ; to punish anybody who has promised hats and 
failed to provide hats. The modern mind is that which 
says that if we only cut off the heads of two of the little 
boys, they will not want hats ; and then the hats will 
exactly go round. The suggestio"n that heads are rather 
more important than hats is dismissed as a piece of 
mystical metaphysics. The assertion that hats were 
made for heads, and not heads for hats savours of 
antiquated dogma. The musty text which says that the 
body is more than raiment ; the popular prejudice which 
would prefer the lives of boys to the mathematical 
arrangement of hats, — all these things are aHke to be 
ignored. The logic of enlightenment is merciless ; and 
we duly summon the headsman to disguise the defi- 
ciencies of the hatter. For it makes very little difference 
to the logic of the thing, that we are talking of houses 
and not of hats. . . . The fundamental fallacy remains 
the same ; that we are beginning at the wrong end, 
because we have never troubled to consider at what end 
to begin." ^ 

^ Quoted from Jmerica, October 29, 192 1, p. 31. 



A modern writer is burdened by many words 
that carry an erroneous meaning, and one of these 
is the word ^' civilisation." Intended to mean 
" The Art of Living," this word, by wrong usage, 
now implies that our method of combining mental 
culture and bodily comfort is the highest, noblest, 
and best way to live. Yet this implication is by 
no means certain. On the contrary, the spectacle 
of our social life would bring tears to eyes un- 
dimmed by the industrial traditions of the past 
hundred years. This I know to be true, having 
once travelled to London in the company of a 
young girl who came from the Thirteenth Cen- 
tury. She had lived some twelve years on the 
Low Sierra of Andalusia, where in a small sunlit 
village she may have vainly imagined our capital to 
be a city with walls of amethyst and streets of gold, 
for when the train passed through that district 
which lies to the south of Waterloo, the child 
wept. " Look at these houses," she sobbed ; 
" Dios mio, they have no view." 




THE second contention of birth controllers 
is that a high birth-rate, by increasing 
poverty, causes a high death-rate. In the 
first place, there is no doubt that poverty, 
necessary features of which are mal-nutrition or 
insufficidnt food and bad housing, is directly 
associated with a high death-rate, although this 
view was once shown by the Lancet to need 
important qualifications. 

" With respect to the greater mortality amongst the 
poor than the rich, we have yet to learn that the only 
hope of lessening the death-rate lies in diminishing the 
birth-rate. We have no proof as yet that the majority 
of the evils at present surrounding the poor are 
necessarily attendant upon poverty. We have yet to 
see a poor population living in dry, well-drained, well- 
ventilated houses, properly supplied with pure water 
and the means of disposal of refuse. And we have yet 
to become acquainted with a poor population spending 
their scant earnings entirely, or in a very large propor- 
tion, upon the necessities of life ; for such is not the case 
when half the earnings of a family are thrown away to 
provide adulterated alcoholic drinks for one member of 
it. Until reforms such as these and others have been 
carried out, and the poor are able and willing to conform 
to known physiological laws, it is premature to speak 
of taking measures to lessen the birth-rate — a proposal, 
be it said, which makes the humiliating confession of 
man's defeat in the battle of life." ^ 

^ The Lancet J 1879, vol. ii, p. 703. 


It will be seen that the qualifications practically 
remove the question from dispute.^ If the con- 
ditions of the poor were thus altered, poverty, as 
it exists to-day, would of course disappear. As 
things are, we find that a high death-rate is 
related to poverty, as is proved, for example, by 
the death-rate from tuberculosis being four times 
greater in slums than in the best residential 
quarters of a city. 

The correct answer to the birth controllers is 
that a high birth-rate is not the cause of a high 
death-rate, because high birth-rates, as shown in 
the previous chapter, are not the cause of poverty, 
but vice versa. Moreover, all the statistical 
evidence goes to prove that in this matter we are 
right and that Malthusians are wrong. 


In China, where there is said to be a birth-rate 
of over 50 per 1,000, and where over 70 per cent, 
of infants are helped to die, the high death-rate 
is due clearly to degraded social customs. In 
the slums of Great Britain the high death-rate is 
also due to degraded social conditions. It is not 
due to the birth-rate. Of this the proof is 

1 Poverty is a term of wide import admitting many degrees 
according as the victim is deprived more or less completely of 
the ordinary necessities in the matters of food, clothing, housing, 
education, and recreation. As used by Malthusians and spoken 
of here it means persistent lack of one or more of these necessary 
requisites for decent living. Vide Parkinson, Primer of Social 
Science (191 8), pp. 225 sqq. 


simple, (a) Among the French Canadians, where 
the average family numbers about nine, this high 
birth-rate is not associated with a high death-rate, 
but with the increase of a thrifty, hard-working 
race. In Ontario the birth-rate went up from 
21' 10 in 1910 to 24-7 in 191 1, and the death-rate 
fell from 14 to 12-6. (b) Again, in 191 1 the 
corrected birth-rate for Connaught was 45*3 as 
against a crude rate of 24*7 for England and 
Wales ; and in Connaught, where there is no 
need for Societies for preventing Parents being 
Cruel to their Children, the infant mortality 
rate ^ is very much lower than in England, 
although the birth-rate is much higher and the 
poverty much greater. In Bradford, a pros- 
perous English town which pays particular 
attention to its mothers and children, the 
infant mortality in 191 7 was 132 per 1,000 and 
the birth-rate 13-2. In Connaught, where 
there are no maternity centres or other aids 
to survival, but on the contrary a great dearth of 
the means of well-being, the infant mortality was 
only 50, whilst the birth-rate was actually 45 ! " 
So untrue is it to say that a high death-rate is 
due to a high birth-rate. 

1 The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of infants 
under one year old per i,ooo births in the same year. 

* See Saleeby, The Factors of Infant Mortality ^ edited by 
Cory Bigger. Report on the Physical Welfare of Mothers and 
Children^ vol. iv, Ireland (Carnegie U.K. Trust), 191 8. 



Again, birth controllers claim that a low birth- 
rate leads to a low infant mortality rate. Now, 
it is really a very extraordinary thing that, what- 
ever be the statement made by a Malthusian on 
the subject of birth-control, the very opposite is 
found to be the truth. During the last quarter 
of last century 2^ falling birth-rate in England was 
actually accompanied by a rising infant mortality 
rate ! During 191 8 in Ireland^ the crude birth- 
rate was 19-9, with an infant mortality rate of 86, 
whereas in England and Wales ^ the crude birth- 
rate was 17-7 with an infant mortality rate of 97, 
and in the northern boroughs the appalling rate 
of 120. In England and Wales the lowest infant 
mortality rate was found to be in the southern 
rural districts, where the rate was 63, but in 
Connaught the rate was 50-5. This means that 
in England a low birth-rate is associated with a 
high infant mortality rate, whereas in Ireland 
a high birth-rate is associated with a low infant 
mortality rate.' These cold figures prove that in 

1 Fifty-fifth Annual Report of the Registrar-General for Ireland, 
containing a General Abstract of the Numbers of Marriages, Births, 
and Deaths, 191 8, pp. x, xxix, and 24. 

2 Eighty-first Annual Re-port of the Registrar-General of Births, 
Deaths, and Marriages in England and Wales, 191 8, pp. xxiv, 
xxxii, and xxxv. 

^ This is also the emphatic testimony of Sir Arthur Newsholme, 
in his Report of Child Mortality, issued in connection with the 
Forty-fifth Annual Report of the Local Government Board (dated 
I9T7)> PP- 77-^' 


this matter at least the poorest Irish peasants are 
richer than the people of ^England. 


The Malthusian claim that a low birth-rate 
leads to a low death-rate is also disproved hy the 
vital statistics of France. 

" The death-rate of France has not declined at the 
same rate as the birth-rate has, and, while the incidence 
of mortality in France was equal to that of England in 
the middle of the seventies, the English mortality is now 
only five-sevenths of the French. England thus main- 
tains a fair natural increase, although the birth-rate 
has declined at an even faster pace than has been the 
case in France. . . . 

" The French death-rate is higher than is the case 
with most of her neighbours, and it can quite well be 
reduced. The reasons for her fairly high mortality are 
not to be found in climatic conditions, racial charac- 
teristics, or other unchangeable elements of nature, nor 
even in her occupations, since some of the most industrial 
regions have a low mortality." ^ 

I have tabulated certain vital statistics of 
twenty Departments of France. 

The following table, covering two periods of 
five years in twenty Departments, proves that 
the death-rate was lower in the ten Departments 
having the highest birth-rate in France than in 
the ten Departments having the lowest birth-rate. 
Moreover, the figures show that, prior to 191 4, 

1 Knud Stouman, "The Repopulation of France," Inter- 
national Journal of Public Healthy vol. ii, no. 4, p. 421. 




The Ten Departments having the Highest Birth-rate in 




Rates per 1,000 population. 


Rates per 1,000 












Bas-Rhin . 



Haut-Rhin . 









+ 9-1 
+ 9-4 
+ 7-9 
+ 3-9 

+ 4-0 
+ 5-2 
+ 6.4 
+ 3-3 














Total A verages 



+ 6-8 



17- 3 

The Ten Departments having the Lowest Birth-rate in 

C6te-d'0r . 







Allier . 










— 2-2 




Haute-Garonne . 







Lot . . , 














Tam-et-Garonne . 














Lot-et-Garonne . 







Gers . 







Total Averages 

1 4' 6 






the Departments with the lowest birth-rate were 
becoming depopulated. On the other hand, the 
enormous fall in the birth-rate throughout the 
country from 1915 to 1919 is a memorial, very 


noble, to the heroism of France in the Great War, 
and to her 1,175,000 dead. Certain other facts 
should also be noted. In France the regulations 
permit that, when a child has died before regis- 
tration of the birth, this may be recorded as a 
still-birth ; and for that reason the proportion of 
still-births appears higher than in most other 

Malthusian claims are thus refuted by the vital 
statistics of France ; but it should be clearly 
understood that these figures do not prove that the 
reverse of the Malthusian theory is true, namely, 
that a high birth-rate is the cause of a low death- 
rate. There is no true correlation between birth- 
rates and death-rates. 


As birth controllers rely very much upon 
statistics, and as figures may very easily mislead 
the unwary, it is necessary to point out that the 
Malthusian contention that a high birth-rate is 
the cause of a high death-rate is not only contrary 
to reason and to facts, but is also contrary to the 
very figures which they quote. A high birth-rate 
is often associated with a high death-rate, but 
a general or uniform correspondence between 
birth-rates and death-rates has never been estab- 
lished by modern statistical methods. To these 
methods brief reference may be made. A co- 
efficient of correlation is a number intended to 
indicate the degree of similarity between two 
things, or the extent to which one moves with the 


other. If this coefficient is unity, or i, it indi- 
cates that the two things are similar in all respects, 
while if it be zero, or o, it indicates that there is 
no resemblance between them. The study of 
correlation is a first step to the study of causation, 
because, until we know to what extent two things 
move together, it is useless to consider whether 
one causes the movement of the other ; but in 
itself a coefficient of correlation does not neces- 
sarily indicate cause or result. Now in this 
country, between 1838 and 191 2 the birth-rate 
and the death-rate show a correlation of -84 ; but 
if that period be split into two, the correlation 
from 1838 to 1876, when the birth-rate was 
fluctuating, is minus •12, and in the period after 
1876 the correlation is plus '92. This means 
that the whole of the positive correlation is due 
to the falling of the death-rate, and that birth- 
rates and death-rates do not of necessity move 

After a careful examination of the vital statis- 
tics for France, Knud Stouman concludes as 
follows : 

** In France no clear correlation exists between the 
birth-rate and the death-rate in thevarious Departments. 
The coefficient of correlation between the birth-rate 
and the general death-rate by Departments (1909-1913) 
was 0'o692 i 0'io67, and including Alsace and Lorraine 
— 0*0212 i 0'i054, indicating no correlation whatso- 
ever. A somewhat different and more interesting table 

1 Dr. Major Greenwood. Vide 7he Declining Birth-rate, 
1916, p. 130. 


is obtained when the correlation is made with the mor- 
tality at each age class : 


Under i year 
1-19 years 

20-39 years 
40-59 years 
60 years and over 

0'3647± 0-0986 
0-4884 i0'08i6 
0-5028 ± o-o8oi 

0-2577 ± O'lOOI 

" A peculiar configuration is observed in these co- 
efficients in that a quite pronounced positive correlation 
exists at the central age group, but disappears with 
some regularity towards both extremities of life. If the 
mortality has any influence upon the natality this cannot 
be in the form of replacement of lost infants and de- 
ceased old people, therefore, as has frequently been 
suggested. That a high death-rate at the child-bearing 
age should be conducive to increased fertility is absurd, 
neither does it seem likely that a large number of children 
should make the parents more Uable to diseases which 
are prevalent at this period of life. The reasons must, 
then, be looked for in a common factor. 

" Now the only disease of importance representing 
the same age-curve as do the correlation coefficients is 
tuberculosis. This disease causes in France 2 per cent, 
of the deaths under one year, 24 per cent, of the deaths 
from I to 19 years of age, not less than 45 per cent, from 
20 to 39, 18 per cent, at ages 40 to 59, and less than 2 
per cent, at the ages over 60. Will a high tuberculosis 
mortality, then, be conducive to great fertility, or do we 
have to fear that a decrease of the natality will be 
the result of energetic measures against tuberculosis ? 
Hardly. The death-rate may be reduced, then, without 
detrimental effects upon the birth-rate. 

" What can the factor be which influences both the 


tuberculosis incidence and the birth-rate ? We know 
that the prevalence of tuberculosis is conditioned princi- 
pally by poverty and ignorance of hygiene. The Pari- 
sian statistics, as compiled by Dr. Bertillon and recently 
by Professor L. Hersch, show a much higher birth-rate 
in the poor wards than in the richer districts, and the 
high birth-rates may be furnished largely by the poorer 
elements of the population. A comfortable degree of 
wealth does not imply a low birth-rate, as is abundantly 
shown elsewhere, and one of the important questions 
which suggest themselves to the French statistician 
and sociologist is evidently the following : How can 
the intellectual and economic standard of the masses 
be raised without detriment to the natality ? 

" We believe that the time is opportune for solving this 
question. The past half-century has been lived under 
the shadow of defeat and with a sense of limitations, 
and of impotence against fate. This nightmare is now 
thrown off, and, the doors to the world being open and 
development free, the French people will learn that new 
initiative has its full recompense and that a living and a 
useful activity can be found for all the sons and daughters 
they may get. The habit of home-staying is broken by 
the war, and new and great undertakings are developing 
in the ruined north-east as well as in the sunny south." * 

^ International Journal of Public Health, yoI. ii, no. 4, 
p. 423. 




THE fact that Malthusians are in the habit 
of citing the birth-rate in certain Catholic 
countries as a point in favour of their 
propaganda is only another instance of their mal- 
adroit use of figures : because for that argument 
there is not the slightest justification. The fol- 
lowing paragraph from a recent speech ^ in the 
Anglican Church Congress by Lord Dawson, 
Physician to the King, is a good example of their 
methods in controversy : 

" Despite the influence and condemnations of the 
Church, it (artificial birth control) has been practised in 
France for well over half a century, and in Belgium and 
other Catholic countries is extending. And if the 
Roman Catholic Church, with its compact organisation, 
its power of authority, and its discipline, cannot check 
this procedure, is it likely that Protestant Churches will 
be able to do so ? For Protestant religions depend for 
their strength on the conviction and esteem they establish in 
the heads and hearts of their people" 

I have italicised the closing words because it 
would be interesting to know, in passing, whether 
anyone denies that these human influences also 
contribute to the strength of the Catholic Church. 
Among recent converts to the Faith in this coun- 
try are many Protestant clergymen who may be 
^ Evening Standard^ October 12, 1921. 


presumed to have known what claims " on their 
conviction and esteem " their communion had. 
Moreover, in France, amongst recent converts are 
some of the great intellects of that country. If 
it be not " conviction and esteem " in their " heads 
and hearts," what other motive, I ask, has induced 
Huysmans, Barres, and others to make submission 
to Rome ? 

Secondly, it is true that for over half a century 
the birth-rate of France has been falling, and that 
to some extent this decline is due to the use of 
contraceptives ; but it is also true that during the 
past fifty years the Government of France has 
made a determined but unsuccessful effort to over- 
throw the Catholic Church ; and that it is in 
so far as the Government has weakened Catholic 
influence and impeded Catholic teaching that the 
birth-rate has fallen. The belief of a nation will 
not influence its destiny unless that belief is 
reflected in the actions of the citizens. Father 
Herbert Thurston, S.J.,^ thus deals with the argu- 
ment implied : 

" Catholicism which is merely Catholicism in name, 
and which amounts to no more in the supposed believer 
than a vague purpose of sending for a priest when he is 
dying, is not likely to have any restraining effect upon 
the decline of the birth-rate. Further, it is precisely 
because a really practical Catholicism lays such restric- 
tions upon freedom in this and in other matters, that 
members of the educated and comfortable classes, the 
men especially, are prone to emancipate themselves from 

1 " The Declining Birth-rate " in The Month, August 1916, 
p. 157, reprinted by C.T.S. Price id. 


all religious control with an anti-clerical rancour hardly 
known in Protestant lands. Had it not been for these 
defections from her teaching, the Catholic Church, in 
most countries of mixed religion, would soon become 
predominant by the mere force of natural fertility. 
Even as it is, we believe that a country like France owes 
such small measure of natural increase as she still retains 
almost entirely to the religious principle of the faithful 
few. Where the Catholic Church preserves her sway 
over the hearts of men the maintenance of a vigorous 
stock is assured." 

In the first place, it is noteworthy that the birth- 
rate varies v^ith practical Catholicism in France, 
being much higher in those Departments where 
the Church is more flourishing. As was shown 
by Professor Meyrick Booth in 191 4, there are 
certain districts of France where the birth-rate 
is higher than in the usual English country districts. 
For example, the birth-rate in Finistere was 27* i, 
in Pas-de-Calais 26-6, and in Morbihan 25-8. 
On the other hand, in many Departments the 
birth-rate was lower than the death-rate. This 
occurred, for example, in Lot, Haute Garonne, 
Tarn-et-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne, and in Gers. 
In the two last-named Departments the birth- 
rates were 13-6 and 13-0 respectively. 

In the following table I have tabulated more 
recent figures concerning the vital statistics in 
these two groups of Departments, and rates for 
the two periods of five years, 1909-1913, and 191 5- 
1919, in each group are compared. 

It will be noted that in the three Departments, 
where practical Catholicism is most flourishing, 







Rates per 1,000 


I year 

Rates per 1,000 






Finistere . 
Morbihan . 



+ 9-1 
+ 9-4 
+ 7-9 





Total Averages . 



+ S'S 





Lot . 

Haute Garonne . 


Lot-et-Garonne . 

Gers . 















Total Averages . 








there is a high birth-rate, and moreover that in 
these Departments both the death-rate and the 
infant mortality rate is lower than in the five 
Departments with the lowest birth-rate. 

Professor Meyrick Booth's comments are as 
follows : 

" The above five departments (in which the decline 
of population has been most marked) are adjacent to 
one another in the fertile valley of the Garonne, one of 
the wealthiest parts of France ; and we may well ask : 
Why should the birth-rate under such favourable 
conditions be less than half that which is noted for the 
bleak district of Finistere ? The noted statistician, M. 


Leroy-Beaulieu, has some interesting observations to 
offer upon this paradoxical state of things. Considering 
the country in general, and these districts in particular, 
he notes that the most prolific parts of France are those 
in which the people have retained their allegiance to the 
traditional Church (in the case of the Pas-de-Calais we 
have a certain degree of adherence to the orthodox faith 
combined with the presence of a large mining popula- 
tion). M. Leroy-Beaulieu expresses the opinion that 
the Catholic Church tends, by means of its whole atmo- 
sphere, to promote a general increase of population ; for, 
more than other types of Christianity, it condemns 
egoism, materialism, and inordinate ambition for self or 
family ; and, moreover, it works in the same direction 
through its uncompromising condemnation of modern 
Malthusian practices. He draws our attention, further, 
to the new wave of religious life which has swept over the 
haute-bourgeoisie of France during the last few decades ; 
and he does not hesitate to connect this with the fact 
that this class is now one of the most prolific (perhaps the 
most prolific) in the nation. Space forbids my taking 
up this subject in detail, but it appears from a consider- 
able body of figures which have been collected that, 
while the average number of children born to each 
marriage in the English Protestant upper middle class 
is not more than about 2*0 to 2*5, the number born to 
each marriage in the corresponding class in France is 
between 3*0 and 4*0. Taking the foregoing facts into 
consideration, it would appear that Roman Catholicism 
—even in France — is very considerably more prolific 
(where the belief of the people is at all deep) than English 
Protestantism. This applies both to the upper and 
lower classes." ^ 

^ " Religious Belief as affecting the Growth of Population," 
The Hibhert Journal^ October, 1914, p. 144. 


In all probability Lord Dawson was unaware 
of the foregoing, but there is one fact which, as a 
Neo-Malthusian, he ought to have known, because 
the omission of this fact in his address is a serious 
matter. When referring to France as a country 
where birth control had come to stay, Lord Dawson 
did not tell his audience that the Government of 
France has now suppressed the only Malthusian 
periodical in that country, and has proposed a law, 
whereby those who engage in birth control propaganda 
shall be imprisoned, 


As regards other countries, Holland is usually 
described as the Mecca of Malthusians, being 
" the only country where Neo-Malthusianism has 
been given the opportunity of diminishing the ex- 
cessive birth-rate on eugenic lines, i.e. in the re- 
duction of the fertility of the poorest classes," ^ and 
where a " considerable rise in the wages and general 
prosperity appears to have taken place side by side 
with an unprecedented increase of population." 
When we come to investigate this claim we find 
that, of the eleven provinces of Holland, two 
are almost entirely Catholic, these being North 
Brabant, with 649,000 inhabitants, and Limburg, 
with 358,000 inhabitants. On the other hand, 
in Friesland, with 366,000 inhabitants, not more 
than 8 per cent, are Catholics. The vital statis- 

1 The Secretary of the Malthusian League. Vide The Declining 
Birth-rate, 1916, p. 99. 


tics for 191 3 are quoted hy Father Thurston, 

"... We find that in LImburg the crude birth-rate 
is 33*4, in North Brabant it is 32*5, but in Friesland it 
is 24*3. Of course, this is not the beginning and end of 
the matter. In North Brabant the death-rate is 16-36, 
in Limburg it is 15*28, in Friesland it is only 11 '21, but 
the fact remains that in the two Catholic provinces the 
natural increase is i6'iy and 18*15, while in the non- 
Catholic province of Friesland it is 13*15. Further, no 
one can doubt that in such densely populated districts 
as North and South Holland and Gelderland the 
Catholics, who number more than 25 per cent, of the 
inhabitants, exercise a perceptible influence in raising 
the birth figures for the whole kingdom. The results 
would be very different if the entire country adopted 
Neo-Malthusian principles." ^ 


As v^as proved by the census of religions in 
1906, the United States of America is becoming 
a great stronghold of the Faith. In Massachu- 
setts the Catholic Church numbered 1,100,000 
members, whereas the total membership of all the 
Protestant Churches v^as 450,000. In Illinois 
there v^ere about 300,000 Methodists and 
1,000,000 Catholics. There were 2,300,000 Catho- 
lics in the State of New York, and about 300,000 
Methodists, while no other Protestant Church 
numbered more than 200,000. The New Eng- 
land States, once the home of American Puri- 
tanism, are now great centres of Catholicism. 

^ The Month, August 1916, p. 157, C.T.S. : 2d. 



Professor Mevrick Booth * explains this remarkable 
change as being due to two causes : (i) The influx 
of large numbers of European Catholics, who 
cling tenaciously to their religion ; (2) the greater 
fertility of these stocks as compared with the 
native population. Moreover, he has tabulated 
the following statistics : 


Births and 




Chief Religious Bodies (1906^. 


rate per 

(b. and d.) 




Prot, Episcopa- 


b. 36,000 




d. 36,500 

Disciples . 




Iowa . 




b. 36,000 




d. 20,000 

Presbyterian . 


R.C. . 


Maryland . 


Prot. Episcopa- 


b. 19,000 


lian . 


d. 20,000 

Baptist and 

smaller, about 


R.C. . 


California . 



Prot. bodies 
about (All 


b. 32,100 
d. 32,400 


Churches weak) 250,000 

Kentucky . 


Baptist . 


b. 35,000 




d. 18,000 



In these States the birth-rate is low ; in three 
there are actually more deaths than births ; and 
in all five the proportion of Catholics is compara- 
tively small. These States may be compared with 

1 The Hibbert Journal, October 1914, p. 147. 


five others, in which the Catholic and the foreign 
elements are well represented : 




Chief Religious Bodies. 

Births and 


rate pec 


New York . 


R.C. . . 2,280,000 




Jews . (?) 1,000,000 



Methodist . 300,000 

Presbyterian 200,000 

Rhode Island 


R.C. . . 160,000 




Baptist . 20,000 



Prot. Episcopa- 

lian . . 15,000 



R.C. . . 1,080,000 




Congregational 120,000 



Baptist . 80,000 

(All Protestants 

together) . 450,000 

Michigan . 


R.C. . . 490,000 




Methodist . 128,000 



Lutheran . 105,000 

Connecticut . 


R.C. . . 300,000 




Congregational 66,000 



Prot. Episcopa- 

lian . . 37,000 

In these States the birth-rate is very much 
higher than in the former. Furthermore, a New 
York paper ^ investigated the birth-rate in that 
city with special reference to religious belief, and 
concluded that the different bodies could be 
graded as follows with respect to the number of 
children per marriage : (i) Jews, (2) Catholics, 
(3) Protestants (Orthodox), (4) Protestants 
(Liberal), and (5) Agnostic. Professor Meyrick 
Booth, who is himself a Protestant, concludes his 
survey of the evidence as follows : 

" liOoking at the situation as a whole, there is good 

1 Vide Th Hihhert Journal, October 1914, p. 149. 


reason to think that the Protestant Anglo-Saxons are 
not only losing ground relatively, but must, at any rate 
in the East and middle East, be suffering an actual 
decrease on a large scale. For it has been shown by 
more than one sociologist (see, for example, the state- 
ment in ^he Family and the Nation) that no stock can 
maintain itself with an average of less than about four 
children per marriage, and from all available data (it has 
not been found possible to obtain definite figures for 
most of the Western and Southern States) we must see 
that the average fertility of each marriage in this section 
of the American people falls far short of the requisite 
four children. Judging by all the figures at hand, the 
modern Anglo-Saxon American, with his high standard 
of comfort, his intensely individuaHstic outlook on life, 
and his intellectual and emancipated but child-refusing 
wife, is being gradually thrust aside by the upgrowth 
of new masses of people of simpler tastes and hardier and 
more natural habits. And, what is of peculiar interest 
to us, this new population will carry into ascendancy 
those religious and moral beliefs which have moulded 
its type of life. 

"The victory will be, not to those religious beliefs 
which most closely correspond to certain requirements of 
the abstract intellect, but to those which give rise, in 
practice, to a mode of life that is simple, natural, unsel- 
fish, and adequately prolific — in other words, to a mode 
of life that works, that is Lehensfdhig" ^ 

As things are, the original Protestant stock of 
America is being swamped by the growth of the 
Catholic, the Jewish, and the Negro population. 
Moreover, the United States is faced by the 
grave problem of a rapidly increasing coloured 

1 7he Hibbert Journal, October 1914, p. 150. 



race. Despite this fact the American Malthusians 
are now demanding that a National Bureau should 
be established to disseminate information regard- 
ing contraceptives throughout their country ! 
And what of the other reformers ? They also 
are very busy. They have already abolished those 
cheering beverages from grapes and grain, or 
rather they have made alcohol one of the surrepti- 
tious privileges of the rich. They are seeking to 
enforce the Sabbath as a day of absolute rest, not 
for the glory of God but in order that tired wage- 
slaves may have their strength renewed for another 
week of toil in the factories and the mills. Again, 
they would uproot from the homely earth that 
pleasant weed whose leaves have made slaves of 
millions since the days of Sir Walter Raleigh. All 
these things would they do. There are some 
things the reformers have not done, and these 
things are recounted by an American writer. Dr. 
Anthony M. Benedik : 

" The divorce peril, the race-suicide evil, the greed for 
ill-gotten gold, things like these the reformers touch not. 
And these things it is which harm the soul. Abolishing 
the use of alcoholic drinks and of tobacco, putting the 
blue laws into effect, suppressing all rough sports, may 
make a cleaner, more sanitary, more hygienic, a quieter 
world. And yet there keep recurring to mind those 
words of the Master of mankind, * What doth it profit 
a man if he gain the world and suffer the loss of his 
soul ? ' What worthy exchange can a man make for 
his soul ? " ^ 

1 " Race-suicide and Dr. Bell," America, October 29, 1921, 
p. 31. 


On the other hand, it is good to read that the 
Governor of New York has recently signed a bill 
making it a misdemeanour for landlords to refuse 
to rent apartments to families in which there are 
children. In that State children thus regain 
equal rights with dogs, cats, and canaries. Is it 
too much to ask of the House of Commons that 
they should pass a similar law ? We shall see. 

The dangers of birth control were apparent to 
that great American, Theodore Roosevelt, when 
he said : 

" The greatest of all curses is the curse of sterility, 
and the severest of all condemnations should be that 
visited upon wilful sterility. The first essential in any 
civilisation is that the man and the woman shall be the 
father and the mother of healthy children, so that the 
race shall increase and not decrease." * 


On a smaller scale the position is the same in 
England and Wales, where Catholicism has 
probably checked to some extent the general 
decline of the birth-rate. In 191 9 there were 
only six towns in England - with a birth-rate of 
over 25 per 1,000, these being St. Helens (25-6), 
Gateshead (25*9), South Shields (26-9), Sunder- 

* Daily Chronicle, April 25, 1910. 

* Eighty-second Annual Report of the Registrar-General of 
Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England and Wales, 191 9, 
p. 89. 


land (27-1), Tynemouth (25-9), and Middles- 
brough (26-7). Now in these towns the Catho- 
lic element is very strong. During the same 
year in the four registration counties in which 
these towns are situated, a larger proportion of 
marriages were celebrated according to the rites 
of the Church of Rome than in the other counties 
of England and Wales. ^ The actual proportion 
of Catholic marriages per 1,000 of all marriages 
in these four counties was: Lancashire 116, 
Durham 99, Northumberland 92, and the North 
Riding of Yorkshire 92. That gives a fair index 
of the strength of the Catholic population. 
Again in 191 9 we find that Preston, a textile 
town, has a birth-rate of I7'i, whereas two other 
textile towns, Bradford and Halifax, have rates of 
13-4 and 1 3* I respectively: and there can be 
little doubt that the relative superiority of 
Preston is mainly owing to her large Catholic 

The actual birth-rate amongst Catholics in 
England may be estimated from information con- 
tained in Th^ Catholic Directory for 1914. As 
that work gives the Catholic population and the 
number of infant baptisms during the previous 
year in each diocese of Great Britain, and as 
Catholic children are always baptized soon after 
birth, it is possible to estimate the birth-rate of 
the Catholic population. Working on these 
figures Professor Meyrick Booth * has published 
the following table : 

* Ibid., p. xivi. 

• Th Hihbert Journal, October 1914, p. 141. 






Menevia (Wales) 



Birth-rate per i,ooo of the 
Roman Catholic population. 

. 45-2 
. 38-0 
. 42-0 

Liverpool . 


Plymouth . 
Southwark . 






During the same period the general birth-rate 
amongst the v^hole population of England and 
Wales was about 24 per 1,000. And figures 
that are even more remarkable have been pub- 
lished by Mr. W. C. D. Whetham and Mrs. 
Whetham.^ These v^riters, having investigated 
the number of children in the families of the 
landed gentry, shov^ that the birth-rate amongst 
the aristocracy has declined. 

" A hundred fertile marriages for each decade from 
1 83 1 to 1890 have been taken consecutively from those 
families who have held their title to nobility for at least 
two preceding generations, thus excluding the more 
modern commercial middle-class element in the present 
Peerage, which can be better dealt with elsewhere. 
We then get the full effect of hereditary stability and a 

^ The Family and the Nation^ 1909, pp. 139, 142. 


secure position, and do away with any disturbing in- 
fluence that might occur from a sudden rise to pros- 
perity." ^ 

The results were as 

follows : 


Number of children to each 
fertile marriage. 



. 7-1 
. 6-1 
. . . . 4-36 
. 3-13 

The birth-rate amongst thirty families of the 
landed gentry, who were known to be definitely 
Catholic, was also investigated, with the following 
results ; 

Years. Number of children to each 

fertile marriage. 

1871-90 6-6 

(as compared with 374 for the landed 
families as a whole during the 
same period.) 

The interpretation of these figures is not a 
matter of faith, but of reason. I submit that the 
facts are prima facie evidence that by observance 
of the moral law, as taught by the Catholic Church, 
even a highly cultured community is enabled to 
escape those dangers of over-civilisation that lead 
to diminished fertility and consequently to 
national decline. 

The truth of this statement has been freely 
acknowledged by many Anglicans. According to 
Canon Edward Lyttelton : " The discipline of 
^ Quoted in Universe , October 22, 1921. 


the Roman Communion prohibits the artificial 
prevention of conception, hence Ireland is the 
only part of the United Kingdom in which the 
birth-rate has not declined, and the decline is 
least in places like Liverpool and those districts 
where Roman Catholics are most numerous." As 
we have already seen (p. 51), there are also other 
reasons why Catholicism preserves the fertility 
of a nation. 

Without wishing to hurt the feelings of the 
most sensitive materialist, it is necessary to point 
out that, apart altogether from the question as to 
whether the chief or immediate cause of a declin- 
ing birth-rate is the practice of artificial birth 
control, or, as seems to be possible, a general 
lowering of fertility, birth-rates are more depend- 
ent on morals and religion than on race and 
country. During the past century irreligion 
spread throughout France, and the birth-rate fell 
from 32-2, during the first decade of the nine- 
teenth century, to 20-6, during the first ten years 
of the twentieth century. In America, amongst 
the descendants of the New England Puritans a 
decay of religion and morals has also been accom- 
panied by a dwindling birth-rate. The decline 
of the original New England stock in America has 
been masked to some extent by the high birth-rate 
amongst the immigrant population; but neverthe- 
less it is apparent in the Census Returns for 1890, 
when a population of 65,ooo,ocx) was expected 
and only 62,500,000 was returned. Moreover, 
there is ample evidence in history that, wherever 
the Christian ideal of a family has been aban- 


doned, a race is neither able to return to the 
family life of healthy pagan civilisations nor to 
escape decay. During the past fifty years in 
England family life has been definitely weakened 
by increased facilities for divorce amongst the 
rich, by the discouragement of parental authority 
amongst the poor, and by the neglect of all 
religious teaching in the schools. And thus, in the 
v^ords of Charles Devas, " We have of late years, 
with perverse ingenuity, been preparing the way 
for the low birth-rate of irreligion and the high 
death-rate of civil disorder." ^ The birth-rate in 
England and Wales reached its highest point, 
36-3, in 1876, and has gradually fallen to 18-5 in 
1 91 9. During the first two quarters of that year 
the rate was the lowest yet recorded. During the 
pre-war year, 191 3, the rate was 24*1. 

In conclusion, the following statements by a 
Protestant writer are of interest : 

** Judging from a number of figures which cannot be 
quoted here, owing to considerations of space, it would 
seem that the English middle-class birth-rate has fallen 
to the extent of over 50 per cent, during the last forty 
years ; and we have actual figures showing that the 
well-to-do artisan birth-rate has declined, in the last 
thirty years ^ by ^2 per cent, ! Seeing that the Protestant 
Churches draw their members mainly from these very 
classes, we have not far to seek for an explanation of the 
empty Sunday Schools. . . .'* 

" Under these circumstances it is not in the least 
necessary for Protestant ministers and clergymen to 

1 Charles S. Devas, Political Economy^ 2nd edition, 1901, 
p. 193. 


cast about them for evidence of Jesuit macliinations 
wherewith to explain the decline of the Protestant 
Churches in this country 1 Let them rather look at the 
empty cradles in the homes of their own congregations !"^ 

The author of the above-quoted paragraphs thus 
attributes the decline both of the birth-rate and of 
the Protestant Churches to the general adoption 
of artificial birth control. With that explanation 
I disagree, because it puts the horse behind the 
cart. When the Protestant faith was strong the 
birth-rate of this country v^as as high as that of 
Catholic lands. The Protestant Churches have, 
now^ been overshadowed by a rebirth of Rational- 
ism, a grovTth for which they themselves prepared 
the soil : and diminished fertility is the natural 
product of a civilisation tending towards material- 
ism. Although the practice of artificial birth 
control must obviously contribute towards a falling 
birth-rate, it is neither the only nor the ultimate 
cause of the decline. The ultimate causes of a 
falling birth-rate are more complex, and the 
decline of a community is but the physical 
expression of a moral change. That is my thesis. 

1 Meyrick Booth, B.Sc, Ph.D., The Hibhert Journal, October 
1914, pp. 142 and 152. 




IN 1837 Thomas Doubleday ^ maintained 
that the rising birth-rate of his own time 
was closely connected with the fall in the 
standard of living, and his argument implied that, 
in order to check the excessive birth-rate, it was 
necessary to improve the condition of the mass of 
the people. Four years later he published The 
True Law of Population^ wherein he stated that 
when the existence of a species is endangered — 

" A corresponding effort is invariably made by 
Nature for its preservation and continuance by an 
increase of fertility, and that this especially takes place 
whenever such danger arises from a diminution of proper 
nourishment or food, so that consequently the state of 
depletion or the deplethoric state is favourable to fer- 
tility, and that, on the other hand, the plethoric state, 
or state of repletion, is unfavourable to fertility in the 
ratio of the intensity of each state." 

By a series of experiments on plants Doubleday 
discovered that " whatever might be the principle 
of manure, an overdose of it invariably induced 
sterility in the plant." Although his formula is 
deficient in that food is selected as the one factor 
in environment which influences fertility, and 
although it may be an overstatement to claim that 

1 Quoted in The Law of Births and Deaths, hy Charles Edward 
Pell, 1921, chap. xii. 

C 65 


fertility varies in exact proportion to abundance 
or to scarcity, nevertheless his. formula contains 
an important truth which literally knocks the 
bottom out of the whole Malthusian case. 

It is a sad reflection that, while the falsehoods 
of Malthus have been blindly accepted for the 
greater part of a century, the work of Doubleday 
was almost lost in oblivion. His shade has now 
been recalled to the full centre of the stage, and 
for this the credit is due to Mr. C. E. Pell. His 
recent book ^ is a stimulating essay on the declin- 
ing birth-rate, and contains much evidence that 
supports the main contention of Doubleday. 
Although it is impossible to agree with all the 
deductions made by Mr. Pell, he has nevertheless 
done a public service by restating the problem of 
the birth-rate in a new way, by effectively burst- 
ing the Malthusian bubble, and by tabulating 
fresh evidence against the birth-controllers. 

§ 2. MR. pell's generalisations CRITICISED 

Mr. Pell defines the law of births and deaths in 
two generalisations. The first is : " We have 
seen that it is a necessary condition of the success 
of the evolutionary scheme that the variation of 
the inherited potential degree of fertility between 
species and species must bear an inverse propor- 
tion to their capacity for survival." ' At first 
glance this statement appears hard to be under- 
stood ; but it is obviously true — because it means 
that a species that is well adapted to its environ- 

^ The Law of Births and Deaths, 1921. 
* Ibid., p. 40. 


ment can survive with a low degree of fertility, 
whereas a species that is not well adapted to its 
environment requires a high degree of fertility in 
order to survive. Mr. Pell considers that a 
" capacity for survival " is synonymous with 
" nervous energy " ; but, as our total knowledge 
of nervous energy is limited to the fact that it is 
neither matter nor any known force, the change in 
words does not mark a real advance in knowledge. 
The second generalisation is that " the variation 
of the degree of animal fertility in response to the 
direct action of the environment shall bear an 
inverse proportion to the variation of the sur- 
vival capacity under that environment." ^ Here 
Mr. Pell and I part company. I have already 
(Chapter III) disputed the causal connection 
between birth-rate and death-rate which Mr. 
Pell here asserts. His generalisation is made by 
assuming that birth-rates and death-rates rise 
and fall together : that conditions which produce 
a high death-rate will also produce a high birth- 
rate and that conditions which cause a low death- 
rate will also cause a low birth-rate ; that the 
increase or decline of a population is due to the 
direct action of the environment ; and finally 
that " the actual degree of fertility is decided 
by the direct action of the environment." * On 
that last rock Mr. Pell's barque sinks. The 
mistake here is analogous to the old Darwinian 
fallacy, abandoned by Huxley and by Romanes, 
that natural selection is a creative cause of new 

1 The Law of Births and Deaths, 1 921, p. 41. 

2 Ibid., p. 40. 


species. Even if the hypothesis of evolution — 
and it is merely a hypothesis — be accepted, the 
only view v^arranted by reason is that variation of 
species and their actual degree of fertility may be 
produced, not by the direct action of environ- 
ment, but by the reaction of species to their en- 
vironment — a very different story. 

There is no statistical evidence to prove a 
uniform correspondence between birth-rates and 
death-rates, and it is improbable that there should 
be a physical law of nature whose operations 
cannot be demonstrated by mathematical proof. 
Moreover, we know that the same conditions 
which cause a high birth-rate may cause a low 
death-rate. In the case of the first settlers in a 
new country the death-rate is low because the 
diseases of civilisation are absent and the settlers 
are usually young, whereas the birth-rate is high. 
If fifty young married couples settle on the virgin 
soil of a new country it is probable that for 
many years an enormous birth-rate, of over 
I GO, will coexist with a low death-rate. 

In reality a high birth-rate may coexist with a 
low death-rate, or with a high death-rate. For 
example, there is a difference between natural and 
artificial poverty, the first being brought about 
by God, or, if any reader prefers to have it so, 
by Nature, and the second being made by man. 
Under conditions of natural poverty small groups 
of people in an open country are surrounded by 
land not yet cultivated : whereas artificial 
poverty means a population overcrowded and 
underfed, living in dark tenements or in back- to- 


back houses, breathing foul air in ill-ventilated 
rooms seldom lit by the sun, working long hours 
in gas-lit workshops for a sweated wage, buying 
the cheapest food in the dearest market, and 
drugged by bad liquor. In either case their 
existence is threatened, although for very differ- 
ent reasons, and the birth-rate rises ; but under 
conditions of natural poverty the death-rate is 
low, whereas in slums the death-rate is high. 


It would appear, then, that under conditions of 
hardship the birth-rate tends to rise, and that in 
circumstances of ease the birth-rate tends to fall. 
If the existence of the inhabitants in a closed coun- 
try is threatened by scarcity, the birth-rate tends to 
rise. For example, " In some of the remote 
parts of the country, Orkney and Shetland, the 
population remained practically stationary be- 
tween the years 180 1 and 181 1, and in the next 
ten years, still years of great scarcity, it increased 
15 per cent." ^ 

The governing principle may be expressed in the 
following generalisation. When the existence of 
a community is threatened by adversity the birth- 
rate tends to rise ; but when the existence of a 
community is threatened by prosperity the birth- 
rate tends to fall. By adversity I mean war, 
famine, scarcity, poverty, oppression, an untilled 
soil, and disease : and by prosperity I mean 
wealth, luxury, idleness, a diet too rich — especially 
in flesh meat — and over-civilisation, whereby the 
1 Dr. John Brownlee, The Declining Birth-rate y p. 156. 


physical laws of nature are defied. Now the 
danger of national decline owing to prosperity can 
be avoided by a nation that observes the moral 
law, and this is the most probable explanation of 
the fact that in Ireland, although the general 
prosperity of the people has rapidly increased 
since George Wyndham displaced landlordism 
over a large area by small ownership, the birth- 
rate has continued to rise. Moreover, the danger 
to national existence, as we have already indicated 
(Chapter I, § lo) is greater from moral than from 
physical catastrophes, and when both catastrophes 
are threatened the ultimate issue depends upon 
which of the two is the greater. Furthermore, 
it would appear that moral catastrophes inevit- 
ably lead to physical catastrophes. This is best 
illustrated by the fate of ancient Greece. 


The appositeness of this illustration arises from 
the fact that ancient Greece reached a very high 
level of material and intellectual civilisation, yet 
perished owing to moral and physical disasters. 

(a) Moral Catastrophe in Ancient Greece 

The evidence of the moral catastrophe is to be 
found in the change that occurred in the Greek 
character most definitely after the fourth century 
before Christ. Of this Mr. W. H. S. Jones has 
given the following account : 

" Gradually the Greeks lost their brilliance, which had 
been as the bright freshness of early youth. This is 


painfully obvious in their literature, if not in other forms 
of art. Their initiative vanished ; they ceased to create 
and began to comment. Patriotism, with rare excep- 
tions, became an empty name, for few had the high spirit 
and energy to translate into action man's duty to the 
State. Vacillation, indecision, fitful outbursts of un- 
healthy activity followed by cowardly depression, selfish 
cruelty, and criminal weakness are characteristic of the 
public life of Greece from the struggle with Macedonia 
to the final conquest by the arms of Rome. No one 
can fail to be struck by the marked difference between 
the period from Marathon to the Peloponnesian War 
and the period from Alexander to Mummius. Philosophy 
also suffered, and became deeply pessimistic even in the 
hands of its best and noblest exponents. * Absence of 
feeling,' * absence of care ' — such were the highest goals 
of human endeavour. 

" How far this change was due to other causes is 
a complicated question. The population may have 
suffered from foreign admixture during the troubled 
times that followed the death of Alexander. There 
were, however, many reasons against the view that these 
disturbances produced any appreciable difference of race. 
The presence of vast numbers of slaves, not members of 
households, but the gangs of toilers whom the increase 
of commerce brought into the country, pandered to a 
foolish pride that looked upon many kinds of honourable 
labour as being shameful and unbecoming to a free man. 
The very institution that made Greek civilisation pos- 
sible encouraged idleness, luxury, and still worse vices. 
Unnatural vice, which in some States seems to have been 
positively encouraged, was prevalent among the Greeks 
to an almost incredible extent. It is hard not to believe 
that much physical harm was caused thereby ; of the loss 
to moral strength and vigour there is no need to speak. 
The city-state, again, however favourable to the develop- 


ment of public spirit and a sense of responsibility, was 
doomed to fail in a struggle against the stronger Powers 
of Macedon and Rome. The growth of the scientific 
spirit destroyed the old religion. The more intellectual 
tried to find principles of conduct in philosophy ; the 
ignorant or half-educated, deprived of the strong moral 
support that always comes from sharing the convictions 
of those abler and wiser than oneself, fell back upon 
degrading superstitions. In either case there was a 
serious loss of that spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion 
which a vigorous religious faith alone can bestow. With- 
out such a spirit, as history proves conclusively, no nation 
or people can survive." ^ 

(b) The Physical Catastrophe induced hy Selfishness 

One of the physical catastrophes that probably 
most accelerated the fall of Greek civilisation was 
malarial fever. The parasite of this disease is 
carried from man to man by Anopheline mos- 
quitoes. These insects, during the stage of o^gg, 
larva, and nympha, live in water, and afterwards, 
as developed insects, in the air. The breeding- 
grounds, where the eggs are laid, are shallow pools 
of stagnant water. For that reason the disease 
is most common in marshy country, and tends to 
disappear when the land is properly drained. Of 
this we have an example in England, whence 
malaria disappeared as the marshes were drained. 

In Homer there is a disputed reference to 
malaria, but it is not possible to ascertain whether 
the disease was present during the rise of Greek 
civilisation, and there are no references to this 

* Malaria and Greek History, 1909, pp. 102 et seq. 


disease in the literature from 700 B.C. to 550 B.C.* 
From this date references to malaria gradually 
become more frequent, and Hippocrates stated 
that " those who live in low, moist, hot districts, 
and drink the stagnant water, of necessity suffer 
from enlarged spleen. They are stunted and ill- 
shaped, fleshy and dark, bilious rather than 
phlegmatic. Their nature is to be cowardly and 
adverse from hardship ; but good discipline can 
improve their character in this respect." ' After 
an exhaustive study of the literature, Mr. Jones 
concludes " that malaria was endemic throughout 
the greater part of the Greek world by 400 B.C." 
Concerning the causes of a malarial epidemic. 
Sir Ronald Ross writes ' : " Suppose that the 
Anophelines have been present from the first, but 
that the number of infected immigrants has been 
few. Then, possibly, some of these people have 
happened to take up their abode in places where 
the mosquitoes are rare ; others may have re- 
covered quickly ; others may not have chanced 
to possess parasites in suitable stages when they 
have been bitten. Thus, the probability of their 
spreading infection would be very small. Or, 
supposing even that some few new infections have 
been caused, yet, by our rough calculations in 
section 12, unless the mosquitoes are sufficiently 
numerous in the locality, the little epidemic may 
die out after a while — for instance, during the 
cool season." The italics are mine, because some 

^ Ibid., p. 26. 
2 Ibid., p. 85. 
' Re fort on the Prevention of Malaria in Mauritius ^ p. 51. 


writers have suggested that the decline of Greece 
was due to malaria, whereas I submit, as the more 
logical interpretation of the facts, that a moral 
catastrophe led to the neglect of agriculture, 
whereby the area of marshy land became more 
extensive, mosquitoes more numerous, and the 
fever more prevalent. 

In view of the foregoing facts, the following 
Malthusian statement, although groundless, is 
nevertheless an amusing example of the errors 
that arise from lack of a little knowledge : 

" The difficulty of providing for a high birth-rate in 
a settled community was appreciated by the ancient 
Greeks, notably by Plato and Aristotle ; but their 
conclusions were swept aside by the warlike spirit of 
Rome, and the sentimentality of Christianity, so that 
only a few isolated thinkers showed any appreciation 
of them." ' 

1 C. V. Drysdale, O.B.E., D.Sc, The Malthusian Doctrine and 
its Modern Aspects, p. 3. 



BIRTH controllers claim that the fall in the 
English birth-rate, which began to decline 
in 1876, is mostly due to the use of con- 
traceptives : but the very fact that this claim is 
made by these reckless propagandists makes it 
imperative that v^re should scrutinise the evidence 
very carefully. 


In support of the Malthusian contention, Dr. 
C. V. Drysdale, v^ho is not a doctor of medicine 
but a doctor of science, has published the follow- 
ing statements : 

"... We might note that a recent investigation of 
the records of the Quakers (the Society of Friends) 
reveals the fact that family limitation has been adopted 
by them to a most astonishing extent. Their birth- 
rate [sic] stood at 20 per thousand in 1876, and has now 
actually fallen to about 8 per thousand. The longevity 
of Quakers is well known, and the returns of deaths given 
by their Society show that the great majority live to 
between seventy and ninety years. Infantile mortality 
is practically unknown among them, although none of 
the special steps so dear to most social reformers have 
been taken for the protection of infant life. The 
Quakers are well known to be very earnest Christians, 
and to give the best example of religious morality. 
Their probity in business and their self-sacrifice in 
humanitarian work of all kinds are renowned. Yet it 
would seem that they have adopted family restriction 




to a greater extent than any other body of people, and, 
since the decline of their birth-rate only began in 1876, 
that it is due to adoption of preventive methods." ^ 

Again, he translates the follov^ing quotation 
from a Swiss author : 

" In France a national committee has been formed 
which has as its object an agitation for the increase of 
the population. Upon this committee these [? there] 
sit, besides President Poincare, who, although married, 
has no children, twenty-four senators and litterateurs. 
These twenty-five persons, who preach to their fellow 
citizens by word and pen, have between them nineteen 
children, or not one child on the average per married 
couple. Similarly, a Paris journal (Intransigeant, August 
and September, 1908) had the good idea of publishing 
four hundred and forty-five names of the chief Pari- 
sian personalities who are never tired of lending their 
names in support of opposition to the artificial restriction 
of families. I give these figures briefly without the 
names, which have no special interest for us. Anyone 
interested in the names can consult the paper well known 
in upper circles. Among them : 

176 married couples had o children = o children 

1 child = 106 

2 children =176 






Total, 445 




= 120 

= 76 

= 35 

= 24 
= 21 

= 9 
= II 

with 578 

^ Ths Small Family System, pp. 195 and 160, New York, 1917. 


That is, an average one and a third children per couple, 
while each single one of these families could much more 
easily have supported twenty children than a working- 
class family a single child." 

" Comment on the above is superfluous," adds 
Dr. C. V. Drysdale, and v^ith that remark most 
people vv^ill cordially disagree. The obvious 
interpretation of the foregoing figures is that there 
has been a decline in natural fertility amongst 
highly educated and civilised people. But that 
interpretation does not suit Dr. Drysdale's book, 
and hence we have the disgraceful spectacle of a 
writer who, in order to bolster up an argument 
which is rotten from beginning to end, does not 
hesitate to launch without a particle of evidence a 
charge of gross hypocrisy against the Quakers of 
England, a body of men and women who in peace 
and in war have proved the sincerity of their 
faith, and against four hundred and seventy 
respected citizens of Paris. Further comment 
on that is superfluous. At the same time it is 
obvious that, in so far as their pernicious propa- 
ganda spreads and is adopted, Malthusians may 
claim to contribute to the fall of the birth-rate, 
and towards the decline of the Empire. 


In the course of an inquiry on the fertility of 

women who had received a college education, the 

National Birth Rate Commission ^ attempted to 

discover to what extent birth control was prac- 

^ The Declining Birth-raUj p. 323. 


tised amongst the middle and professional classes. 
Of those amongst whom the inquiry was made 477 
gave definite answers, from which it was ascer- 
tained that 289, or 60 per cent., consciously 
limited their families, or attempted to do so ; and 
that 188, or 40 per cent, made no attempt to 
limit their families. Amongst those who limited 
their families 183 stated the means employed, and 
of these, 105, or 57 per cent., practised continence, 
whilst 78, or 43 per cent., used artificial or un- 
natural methods. 

Now comes a most extraordinary fact. Dr. 
Major Greenwood,^ a statistician whose methods 
are beyond question, discovered that there was no 
real mathematical difference between the number 
of children in the " limited " families and the 
number in the unlimited families. In both 
groups of families the number of children was 
smaller than the average family in the general 
population, and in both groups there were fewer 
children than in the families of the preceding 
generation to which the parents belonged. Dr. 
Greenwood states that this is prima facie evidence 
that deliberate birth control has produced little 
effect, and that the lowered fertility is the 
expression of a natural change. Nevertheless, he 
holds that the latter explanation cannot be 
accepted as wholly proved on the evidence, owing 
to certain defects in the data on which his calcu- 
lations were based. 

" I am of opinion that we should hesitate before 
adopting that interpretation in view of the cogent 
1 The Declining Birth-rate, p. 324. 


indirect evidence afforded by other data that the fall of 
the birth-rate is differential, and that the differentiation 
is largely economic. There are at least two considera- 
tions which must be borne in mind in connection with 
these schedules. The first is, that all the marriages 
described as unlimited may not have been so. I do not 
suggest that the answers are intentionally false, but it is 
possible that many may have considered that limitation 
implied the use of mechanical means ; that marriages in 
which the parties merely abstained from, or limited the 
occasions of, sexual intercourse may have frequently 
entered as of unrestricted fertility." 

The above italics are mine, because, if that 
surmise be correct, it goes to prove that the 
restriction of intercourse to certain periods, v^hich 
restriction the married may lawfully practise, is 
as efficacious in limiting the size of a family as are 
those artificial methods of birth control contrary 
both to natural and to Christian morality. Dr. 
Major Greenv^ood continues as follows : 

" In the second place, the schedules do not provide 
us with information as to when limitation was intro- 
duced. We are told, for instance, that the size of the 
family was five and that its number was limited. This 
may mean either that throughout the duration of the 
marriage preventive measures were adopted from time 
to time, or that after five children had been born fertile 
intercourse was stopped. In the absence of detailed 
information on this point it is plainly impossible to form 
an accurate judgment as to the effect of limitation." 

There are, therefore, no accurate figures to 


indicate the extent to which birth control has 
contributed to the decline in the birth-rate. 


Moreover the claim of birth controllers, that 
the decline in the English birth-rate is mainly 
due to the use of contraceptives, is rendered highly 
improbable by the fact that the Registrar-General* 
has shown that in 191 1 the birth-rate in different 
classes varied according to the occupation of the 
fathers. The figures are these : 

Births per 1,000 married 
Social Class. males aged under 55, including 


1. Unskilled workmen . 

2. Intermediate class . 

3. Skilled workmen 

4. Intermediate . 

5. Upper and middle class 



Thus, ascending the social scale, we find, in class 
upon class, that as the annual income increases the 
number of children in the family diminishes, until 
we come to the old English nobility of whom, 
according to Darwin, 19 per cent, are childless. 
These last have every reason to wish for heirs to 
inherit their titles and what land and wealth they 
possess, and, as their record in war proves them to 
be no cowards' breed, it would be a monstrous 
indictment to maintain that their childlessness is 
mostly due to the use of contraceptives. If all 

1 7he Declining Birth-rate, p. 9. 


these results arose from the practice of birth 
control, it would imply a crescendo of general 
national selfishness unparalleled in the history of 
humanity. No, it is not possible to give Neo- 
Malthusians credit, even for all the evil they 
claim to have achieved. 


Nevertheless, artificial birth control is an evil 
and too prevalent thing. My contention is that 
the primary cause of our falling birth-rate is 
over-civilisation ; one of the most evil products 
of this over-civilisation, whereby simple, natural, 
and unselfish ideals, based on the assumption 
that national security depends on the moral and 
economic strength of family life, have been re- 
placed largely by a complicated, artificial, and 
luxurious individualism ; and that diminished 
fertility, apart from the practice of artificial birth 
control, is a result of luxurious individualism. 
Even if it be so, one of the most evil products of 
over-civilisation is the use of contraceptives, 
because this practice, more than any other factor 
in social life, hastens, directly and indirectly, the 
fall of a declining birth-rate ; and artificial birth 
control, to the extent to which it is practised, 
therefore aggravates the consequences of a law of 
decline already apparent in our midst. I have 
already said that restriction of intercourse, as 
held lawful by the Catholic Church, is possibly 
as efficacious in limiting the size of a family as 
are artificial methods. If any man shall say that 



therefore there is no difference between these 
methods, let him read the fuller explanation given 
in another connection on p. 153. The method 
which reason and morality alike permit is devoid 
of all those evils, moral, psychological, and 
physiological, that follow the use of contracep- 




BIRTH control is alleged to be beneficial for 
men and women, and these " benefits " are 
no less amazing than the fallacies on which 
this practice is advocated. At the Obstetric 
Section of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1921 
the leading physicians on diseases of women con- 
demned the use of contraceptives.*- r«^ X:r=> 

A Cause of Sterility 

Dr. R. a. Gibbons, Physician to the Grosvenor Hos- 
pital for Women, said that nowadays it was common for 
a young married woman to ask her medical man for 
advice as to the best method of preventing conception. 
The test of relative sterility was the rapidity with which 
conception takes place. He had made confidential 
inquiries in 120 marriages. In 100 cases preventive 
measures had been used at one time or another, and the 
number of children was well under 2 per marriage. 
In Paris some time ago the birth-rate was 104 per 1,000 
in the poorer quarters and only 34 in a rich quarter of 
the city ; in London comparative figures had been given 
as 195 and 63 in poor and in rich quarters. These and 
similar figures showed that women hving in comfort and 
luxury did not want to be bothered with confinements. 
It had been said that the degree of sterility could be 
regarded as an index to the morals of a race. Congenital 
sterility was rare, but the number of children born in 
England was decreasing. It had been estimated that 
one-third of the pregnancies in several great cities 
^ The Lance ty May 14, 1921, p. 1024. 


abroad aborted. Dr. Gibbons then quoted figures given 
by Douglas Wight and Amand Routh to show the high 
percentage of abortions and stillbirths. In his opinion 
it was the duty of medical men to point out to the public 
that physiological laws could not be broken with im- 
punity. It had been observed that if the doe were 
withheld from the buck at oestral periods atrophy of 
the ovary took place. In this connection Dr. Gibbons 
recalled a large number of patients who had used contra- 
ceptives in early married life, and subsequently had 
longed in vain for a child. This applied also to those 
who had decided, after the first baby, to have no more 
children, and had subsequently regretted their decision. 


Professor McIlroy, of the London School of 
Medicine for Women, deplored the amount of time spent 
on attempting to cure sterility when contraceptives were 
so largely used. The fact that neuroses were largely the 
result of the use of contraceptives should be made widely 
known, and also that in women the maternal passion 
was even stronger, though it might develop later, than 
sexual passion, and would ultimately demand satisfac- 

Fibroid Tumours 

Dr. Arthur E. Giles, Senior Surgeon to the 
Chelsea Hospital for Women, endorsed Dr. Gibbons's 
remarks as to the great unhappiness resulting from 
deliberately childless marriages, and he added that he 
had always warned patients of this. He believed that 
quinine had a permanently bad effect. Those who waited 
for a convenient season to have a child often laid up 
trouble for themselves. On the question of fibroid 
tumours he had come to the conclusion that these were 
not a cause but in a sense a consequence of sterility. 


Women who were subjected to sexual excitement with 
no physiological outlet appear to have a tendency to 
develop fibroids. He would like the opinion to go 
forth from the section that the use of contraceptives 
was a bad thing. 

All these authorities are agreed that the practice 
of artificial sterility during early married life is the 
cause of many v^omen remaining childless, although 
later on these women wish in vain for children. 
To meet this difficulty one of the advocates of birth 
control advises all young couples to make sure of 
some children before adopting these practices ; 
thus demanding of young parents, at the very time 
when it is most irksome, that very sacrifice of 
personal comfort and prosperity to prevent whicir 
is the precise object of the vicious practice. Nor 
is sterility the only penalty. The disease known 
as neurasthenia arises both in women and in men 
in consequence of these methods. Dr. Mary 
Sharlieb,^ after forty years' experience of diseases 
of women, writes as follows : 

" Now, on the surface of things, it would seem as if 
a knowledge of how to prevent the too rapid increase of 
a family would be a boon to over-prolific and heavily 
burdened mothers. There are, however, certain reasons 
which probably convert the supposed advantage into 
a very real disadvantage. An experience of well over 
forty years convinces me that the artificial limitation 
of the family causes damage to a woman's nervous 
system. The damage done is likely to show itself in 
inability to conceive when the restriction voluntarily 
used is abandoned because the couple desire offspring, 
^ British Medical Journal^ 1 921, vol. ii, p. 93. 


" I have for many years asked women who came to me 

f desiring children whether they have ever practised pre- 

y vention, and they very frequently tell me that they did 

! so during the early days of their married life because 

/ they thought that their means were not adequate to the 

- support of a family. Subsequently they found that 

conception, thwarted at the time that desire was present, 

fails to occur when it becomes convenient. In such 

cases, even although examination of the pelvic organ 

shows nothing abnormal, all one's endeavours to secure 

conception frequently go unrewarded. Sometimes such 

a woman is not only sterile, but nervous, and in generally 

poor health ; but the more common occurrence is that she 

remains fairly well until the time of the change of life, 

when she frequently suffers more, on the nervous side, 

than does the woman who has lived a natural married 


The late Dr. F. W. Taylor, President of the 
British Gynaecological Society, wrote as follows 
in 1904 : 

" Artificial prevention is an evil and a disgrace. The_, 
immorality of it, the degradation of succeeding genera- 
tions by it, their domination or subjection by strangers 
who are stronger because they have not given way to it, 
the curses that must assuredly follow the parents of 
decadence who started it, — all of this needs to be brought 
home to the minds of those who have thoughtlessly or 
ignorantly accepted it, for it is to this undoubtedly 
that we have to attribute not only the diminishing birth- 
rate, but the diminishing value of our population. 

" It would be strange indeed if so unnatural a practice, 
one so destructive ot the best life of the nation, should 
bring no danger or disease in its wake, and I am con- 
vinced, after many years of observation, that both 


sudden danger and chronic diaease jrLay_l3£-pxQdu_ced Jby_ 
the methods of prevention very generally employed. . . . 
The natural deduction is that the artificial production 
of modern times, the relatively sterile marriage, is an 
evil thing, even to the individuals primarily concerned, 
injurious not only to the race, but to those who accept it." 

That was the opinion of a distinguished gynae- 
cologist, w^ho also happened to be a Christian. 
The reader may protest that the latter fact is 
entirely irrelevant to my argument, and that the 
value of a man's observations concerning disease 
is to be judged by his skill and experience as a 
physician, and not by his religious beliefs. A 
most reasonable statement. Unhappily, the Neo- 
Malthusians think otherwise. They would have 
us believe that because this man was a Christian 
his opinion, as a gynaecologist, is worthless. 
C. V. Drysdale, O.B.E., D.Sc, after quoting Dr. 
Taylor's views, adds the following foot-note : 

" I have since learnt that Dr. Taylor was a very ear- 
nest Christian, and the author of several sacred hymns 
and of a pious work, The Coming of the SaintsJ^ * 

Furthermore, in 1905, the South- Western 
Branch of the British Medical Association passed 
the following resolution : 

" That this Branch is of opinion that the growing use 
of contraceptives and ecbolics is fraught with great 
danger both to the individual and to the race. 

" That this Branch is of opinion that the advertise- 

^ The Small Family System, 2nd edit., p. 2. 


ments and sale of such appliances and substances, as well 
as the publication and dissemination of literature relating 
thereto, should be made a penal offence." ^ 


The foregoing opinions are very distasteful to 
Neo-Malthusians, and these people, being unable 
apparently to give a reasoned answer, do not hesi- 
tate to suggest that medical opposition, when not 
due to religious bias, is certainly due to mercenary 

"As the Church has a vested interest in souls, so the 
<? ^ medical profession has a vested interest in bodies. Birth 
^'' is a source of revenue, direct and indirect. It means 
maternity fees first ; it generally presupposes prelimi- 
nary medical treatment of the expectant mother ; and it 
provides a new human being to be a patient to some 
member of the profession, humanly certain to have its 
share of infantile diseases, and likely, if it survives them, 
to produce children of its own before the final death-bed 
attendance is reached." 

That scandalous suggestion has recently been 
repeated by the President of the Society for 
Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress 
under the following circumstances. On October 
31, 1 92 1, the Sussex Daily News published the 
following paragraph from its London corre- 

^ Supplement to The British Medical Journal, March 18, 1905, 
p. no. 

2 Common Sense on the Population Question, hy Teresa Billing- 
ton-Greig, p. 4. Published by the Malthusian League. 


** Birth Control 

" Reverberations of Lord Dawson's recent sensational 
address to the Church Congress on birth control are 
still being felt as well in medical as in clerical circles. 
Indeed, the subject has been discussed by the lawyers 
at Gray's Inn. The London Association of the Medical 
Women's Federation had so animated a discussion on 
it that it was decided to continue it at the next meeting. 
It is quite evident that Lord Dawson did not speak for 
a united medical profession. Indeed, quite a number 
of doctors of all creeds are attacking the new Birth Con- 
trol Society. A London physician has a pamphlet on 
the subject in the Press, and the controversy rages 
fiercely in the neighbourhood of * birth-control ' clinics. 
Much is likely to be made of the example of France, 
where the revolt against the practices advocated is now 
in full swing, and strong legal measures have been taken 
and are in contemplation. French medical opinion is 
said to be very pronounced on the subject, and it has, 
of course, a great deal of clinical experience to back it." 

On November 8, a second paragraph appeared : 

"Birth Control 

" My remark recently that * a number of doctors of 
all creeds are attacking the new Birth-Control Society * 
has been challenged by the hon. secretary of the body 
in question, who observes that I am misinformed. I 
must adhere to my statement, which was a record of 
personal observation. Many doctors have spoken to me 
on the subject, and their opinions on the ethics of birth 
control differ widely ; but I can only remember one who 
did not attack this particular society. The secretary 
suggests that I am confusing what his society advocates 
with something else. As a matter of fact, the whole 


question of birth control has been discussed more than 
once by medical bodies. A doctor who attended one 
such discussion shortly after the opening of the clinic 
in Holloway told me that, while there was divisioi" 
of opinion on the general subject, the feeling of the 
meeting was overwhelming against the particular teach- 
ing given at the clinic, as undesirable and actively 
mischievous. The subject is controversial, and I profess 
to do no more than record such opinions as are current.'* 

On November 17 the Sussex Daily News pub- 
lished the foUov^ing letter : 

" Constructive Birth Control 

" Sir, — Your recent paragraph of * opinions ' about 
the Mothers' Clinic and the Society for Constructive 
Birth Control and Racial Progress is not only extremely 
unrepresentative, but grossly misleading. Your writer 
says that he can only remember one doctor who did not 
attack this particular society. This implies that the 
medical profession is against it, which is absolutely 
untrue, as is quite evident from the fact that we have 
three of the most distinguished medical men in Great 
Britain on our list of Vice-Presidents ; four others, also 
very distinguished, on our Research Committee ; and 
that Dr. E. B.Turner, in a Press interview after the recent 
Church Congress, singled out Constructive Birth Control 
as the only * Control ' which was not mischievous. 

" That there may he medical men who do not approve 
of birth control is natural^ when one remembers that a doctor 
has to make his living, and can do so more easily when 
women are ailing with incessant pregnancies than when 
they maintain themselves in good health by only having 
children when fitted to do so. Opinions of medicals, there- 
fore, must he sifted. The best doctors are with us ; the 
self-seeking and the biassed may be against us. 


" Details about the society, including the manifesto 
signed by a series of the most distinguished persons, 
can be obtained on application to the Honorary Secretary, 
at . . . London, N.19. — Yours, etc. 

"Marie C. Stopes, 
** President Society for Constructive 
and Racial Progress." 

The italics are mine, and they draw attention 
to a disgraceful statement concerning the medical 
profession. As the reader is aware, certain 
members of our profession approve of artificial 
birth control. What, I ask, would be the opinion 
of the general public, and of my friends, if I were 
so distraught as to suggest that these men approved 
of birth control because they had a financial 
interest in the sale of contraceptives ? That 
suggestion would be as reckless and as wicked as the 
statement made by Dr. Marie C. Stopes. In the 
British Medical Journal of November 26 I 
quoted, without comment, the above italicised 
paragraph as her opinion of the medical profession, 
and on December 10 the following reply from the 
lady appeared : 

" Your two correspondents, Dr. Halliday Sutherland 
and Dr. Binnie Dunlop, by quoting paragraphs without 
their full context, appear to lend support to views which 
by implication are,to some extent,detrimental to my own. 
This method of controversy has never appealed to me, 
but in the interests of the society with which I am asso- 
ciated, I must be allowed to answer the implications. 
The paragraph quoted by Dr. Sutherland is not, as would 
appear from his letter, a simple opinion of mine on the 
medical profession, but was written in reply to a rather 


scurrilous paragraph so worded as to lead the public 
to believe that the medical profession as a whole was 
against the Society for Constructive Birth Control and 
Racial Progress. My answer, which appeared not only 
in the papers quoted but in others, contained the follow- 
ing statement : * We have three of the most distinguished 
medical men in Great Britain on our list of Vice-Presi- 
dents ; four others, also very distinguished, on our 
Research Committee.' Reading these words before 
the paragraph your correspondent quotes, and taking all 
in conjunction with an attack implying that the entire 
medical profession was against us, it is obvious that 
the position is rather different from what readers of 
Dr. Sutherland's letter in your issue of November 26 
might suppose." 

4 It will be noted that Dr. Stopes does not v^ith- 
draw but attempts to justify her scandalous sug- 
gestion by stating, firstly, that the full context of 
her letter was not quoted by me, and secondly, 
that her original letter was written " in reply to 
a rather scurrilous paragraph." 

As I have now quoted in full her original letter, 
excepting the address of her society, and the two 
paragraphs from the Sussex Daily New s^vciy readers 
may form their own judgment on the following 
points : Is it possible to maintain that the whole 
context of her original letter puts a different 
complexion on her remarks concerning the 
medical profession ? Can either of the paragraphs 
from the Sussex Daily News be truthfully described 
as " rather scurrilous," or are they fair comment on 
a matter of public interest ? Moreover, even if 
a daily paper had published a misleading paragraph 


about this society, surely that is not a valid reason 
why its President should make a malignant 
attack, not on journalists, but on the medical 
profession ? 


Nor does birth control lead to happiness in 
marriage. On the contrary, experience shows 
that the practice is injurious not only to the y 'j_^ii* 
bodies but also to the minds of men and women. 
As no method of contraception is infallible, the 
wife who allows or adopts it may find herself in 
the truly horrible position of being secretly or 
openly suspected of infidelity. Again, when a 
family has been limited to one or two children 
and these die, the parents may find themselves 
solitary and childless in old age ; and mothers 
thus bereaved are often the victims of profound 
and lasting melancholy. The mother of a large 
family has her worries, many of them not due to 
her children, but to the social evils of our time : 
and yet she is less to be pitied than the woman 
who is losing her beauty after a fevered life of 
vanity and self-indulgence, and who has no one 
to love her, not even a child. 

Moreover, these practices have an influence 
on the relation between husband and wife, on 
their emotions towards each other and towards 
the whole sexual nisus. Mr. Bernard Shaw 
recently stated ^ that when people adopt methods 
of birth control they are engaging, not in sexual 
intercourse, but in reciprocal masturbation. 
1 MgdicQ'Legal Society, July 7, 1921. 


That is the plain truth of the matter. Or, from 
another point of view, it may be said that the 
man who adopts these practices is simply usin£_ 
his wife as he would use a prostitute, as indeed, 
was said long ago by St. Thomas Aquinas.^ The 
excuse offered for illicit sexual intercourse is not 
usually pleasure, but that the sex impulse is 
irresistible : and the same argument is used for 
conjugal union with prevention. In both cases 
the natural result of union is not desired, and 
positive means are taken to prevent it. 

And what of the results on the mutual love, if 
an old-fashioned word be not now out of place, 
and on the self-respect of two people so associated ? 
Birth control cannot make for happiness, because 
it means that mutual love is at the mercy of an 
animal instinct, neither satisfied nor denied. It 
is an old truth that those who seek happiness for 
itself never find it. And yet the advocates of 
birth control have the temerity to claim that 
these practices lead to happiness. I presume 
that of the bliss following marriage with contra- 
ceptives the crowded lists of our divorce courts 
are an index. The marriage bond is weakened 
when a common lasting interest in the care of 
children is replaced by transient sexual excite- 
ment. Once pregnancy is abolished there is no 
natural check on the sexual passions of husband 

^ Suppl. Qu. 49, Art. 6 : " Voluftates meretricias vtr in uxore 
qucerit quando nihil aliud in ea attendit quam quod in meretrice 
attenderet " (A husband seeks from his wife harlot pleasures 
when he asks from her only what he might ask from a harlot). 
Quoted by the Rev. Vincent McNabb, O.P., The Catholic Gazette^ 
September 1921, p. 195. 


or wife, for they have learnt how sexual desire 
may be gratified without the pain, publicity, and 
responsibility of having children. In the ex- 
perience of the world marriages based merely on 
passion are seldom happy, and artificial birth 
control means passion uncontrolled by nature. 
These methods are not practised by nations such 
as Ireland and Spain,_ who accept the moral rule 
of the natural law expressed -la- God's, com man d- 
inents_„ani.5anctioiied by Hk JAjdgments ; and 
no man who has ever lived in these countries could 
trutMully, maintain that the people there, oji.. 
whom the burdens of marriage press as elsewhere, 
are in reality anxious to obtain facilities for 
divorce. On the other hand, there are many 
who allege that the people of England are shout- 
ing out for greater facilities for divorce than they 
now possess. At any rate, it is obvious enough 
that there are those amongst us who are straining 
every nerve to force such facilities upon them. 


It has been said that patriotism is the last refuge 
of a scoundrel ; and apparently chivalry is the 
last refuge of a fool. Some of the advocates of 
birth control who have never thought the matter 
out, either passionately or dispassionately, claim 
to speak on behalf of women. They protest that 
" many women of the educated classes revolt 
against the drudgery, anxieties, inconveniences, 
disease, and disfigurements which attend the 
yearly child-bearing advocated by the moralist." ^ 
^ British Medical Journal, 1 92 1, vol. ii, p. 169. 


What moralist ? Who ever said it ? Again, 
they plead for women who " revolt " from the 
" disfigurement " of the gestation period. The 
great artist Botticelli did not think this was dis- 
figurement. What true women do ? Are they 
not those of whom Kipling writes, " as pale and as 
stale as a bone " ? And, if so, are these unworthy 
specimens of their sex worth tears ? The vast 
majority of women bear the discomforts of 
gestation and the actual perils and pangs of birth 
with exemplary fortitude : and it is a gross 
slander for anyone to maintain that a few cowardly 
and degenerate individuals really represent that 
devoted sex. But these writers are indeed well 
out of the ruck of ordinary humanity, because they 
tell us that " whatever the means employed, and 
whether righteous or not, the propensity to limit 
the highest form of life operates silently and 
steadily amongst the more thoughtful members of 
all civilised countries," and yet add that " it is 
not perhaps good taste to consider the means 
employed to this end." While they thus approve 
and commend the practice of birth control as 
natural to " the more thoughtful members," they 
nevertheless question the " good taste " of dis- 
cussing the very methods of which they approve, 
even in the columns of a medical journal ! Again, 
they tell us that " assuredly continence is not, and 
never will be, the principal " method. That 
may be possibly true, so long as Christianity is 
more professed than practised ; God kiiows we' 
are all lacking enough in self-control. And 
yet throughout the ages moralists have preached 


the advantages of self-control, and we ordinary- 
men and women know that we could do 
better, and that others who have gone before us 
have done better ; but it is the self-styled 
" thoughtful members " who proclaim to the 
world that self-control in matters of sex is an 
impossibility, and therefore not to be even 
attempted. They are no common people — 
these epicureans, selfish even in their refinement. 
In addition to losing their morals, they have 
certainly lost their wits. 


In the Neo-Malthusian propaganda there is yet 
another fact which should be seized by every 
married woman, because it is a clear indication of 
a tendency to reduce women to degrading sub- 
jection. No recommendations of limited inter- 
course or of self-restraint according to the dictates 
of reason or of affection are to be found in the 
writings of birth controllers. Unrestrained in- 
dulgence, without the risk of consequences, is 
their motto. To this end they advocate certain 
contraceptive methods, and the reader should 
note that these methods require precautions to 
be taken solely by the woman. If she fails to take 
these precautions, or if the precautions them- 
selves fail, all responsibility for the occurrence of 
conception rests on her alone ; because her 
Malthusian masters have decided that she alone is 
to be made responsible for preventing the natural 
or possible consequences of intercourse. Why ? 
That is a very interesting question, and one to 


whicli a leading Neo-Malthusian has given the 

In 1854 there was published, Physical, Sexual 
and Natural Religion : by a Graduate of Medicine, 
In the third edition the title was altered to 
The Elements of Social Science, and the author's 
pseudonym to A Doctor of Medicine, This 
book, which contains over 600 pages of small 
type, may be truthfully described as the Bible of 
Neo-Malthusians, and includes, under the curious 
heading Sexual Religion, a popular account of all 
venereal and other diseases of sex. In the Preface 
to the first edition,^ the anonymous author states : 
" Had it not been the fear of causing pain to a 
relation, I should have felt it my duty to put my 
name to this work ; in order that any censure 
passed upon it should fall upon myself alone." 
The relation appears to have had a long life, be- 
cause anonymity was preserved for fifty years, pre- 
sumably out of respect for his, or her, feelings : and 
he, or she, must have lived as long as the author, 
who died in 1904 at the age of seventy-eight; 
because the author's name was not revealed until 
a posthumous edition, the thirty-fifth, appeared 
in 1905, from which we learn that the book was 
written by the late Dr. George Drysdale,brother of 
the first President of the Malthusian League, and 
uncle of the present incumbent. The last edition, 
in recompense for its smudgy type, contains a 
most welcome announcement by the publisher : 

" Publisher's Note. — . . . It is due alike to the 
reader and the publisher to explain why the present 
1 Reproduced in fourth edition, 1861. 


edition is printed (m the main) from stereotypes that 
have seen fifty years' service. The cost of resetting the 
work would be prohibitive on the basis of present (and 
probable future) sales. To some extent the plates have 
been repaired ; but such an expedient can do no more 
than remove the worse causes of offence." 

But the fact with which I am at present 
concerned is that in every edition all contracep- 
tive methods that apply to the male are condemned 
for the following reasons : 

" The first of these modes [coitus interruptus] is 
physically injurious, and is apt to produce nervous dis- 
order and sexual enfeeblement and congestion, from the 
sudden interruption it gives to the venereal act, whose 
pleasure moreover it interferes with. The second, 
namely the sheath, dulls the enjoyment, and frequently 
produces impotence in the man and disgust in both 
parties ; so that it also is injurious " (p. 349). . . . 
" Any preventive means, to be satisfactory, must be 
used by the woman, as it spoils the passion and the im- 
pulsiveness of the venereal act if the man have to think of 
them'' (p. 350). 

The italics are mine, but the following com- 
ments are by a woman, who was moreover the 
first woman to qualify in medicine — the late Dr. 
Elizabeth Blackwell. 

" Here, in this chief teacher of the Neo-Malthusians, 
the cloven foot is fully revealed. This popular author, 
who in many parts of his book denounces marriage as 
the enslavement of men and women, who sneers at 
continence, and rages at Christianity as a vanishing 
superstition — all under a special pretence of benevolence 
and desire for the advancement of the human race. 


here clearly shows what he is aiming at, and what his 
doctrines lead to. Male sexual pleasure must not be 

interfered with, male lust may be indulged in to any 

extent that pleasure demands, but woman must take 
the entire responsibility that male indulgence be not 
disturbed by any inconvenient claims from paternity;. 
Whatever consequences ensue the woman is to blame, 
and must bear the whole responsibility. 

" A doctrine more diabolical in its theory and more 
destructive in its practical consequences has never been 
invented. This is the doctrine of Neo-Malthusianism." ^ 


(a) Affecting the Toung 

There are three special and peculiar evils that 
attend the teaching of birth control amongst the 
poor. Of the first a doctor has v^ritten as follov^s : 

" Morally, the doctrine is indefensible — ^it follows the 
line of least resistance, and sacrifices the spirit to the 
flesh. Materially, it is fraught with grave danger to the 
home and to our national existence. It is proposed 
to disseminate a knowledge of contraceptive methods 
throughout the overcrowded homes of the ill-fed, ill-clad 
poor. Now it is in these homes that the moral sense has 
already but little chance of development, where the child 
of eight or ten already knows far more than is good for 
the health of either body or mind, and, though we may 
succeed in reducing the size of the family, yet the means 
we employ will militate against the raising of the moral 
tone of the household, and the children will not be any 
less precocious than before." ^ 

^ Essays in Medical Sociology, 1899. Revised and reprinted 
for private circulation, p. 95. (Copy in Library of Royal Society 
of Medicine.) 

2 British Medical Journal, August 20, 1921, p. 302, 


That danger is ignored by the advocates of 
birth-control. " But he that shall scandalise one 
of these little ones that believe in Me, it were 
better for him that a mill-stone were hanged 
about his neck, and that he were drowned in the 
depth of the sea." * 

(b) Exposing the Poor to Experiment 

Secondly, the ordinary decent instincts of the 
poor are against these practices, and indeed they 
have used them less than any other class. But, 
owing to their poverty, lack of learning, and help- 
lessness, the poor are the natural victims of those 
who seek to make experiments on their fellows. 
In the midst of a London slum a woman, who is 
a doctor of German philosophy (Munich), has 
opened a Birth Control Clinic, where working 
women are instructed in a method of contracep- 
tion described by Professor Mcllroy as " the most 
harmful method of which I have had experience."* 
When we remember that millions are being spent 
by the Ministry of Health and by Local Authori- 
ties — on pure milk for necessitous expectant and 
nursing mothers, on Maternity Clinics to guard 
the health of mothers before and after childbirth, 
for the provision of skilled midwives, and on 
Infant Welfare Centres — all for the single purpose 
of bringing healthy children into our midst, it is 
truly amazing that this monstrous campaign of 
birth control should be tolerated by the Home 

1 St. Matt, xviii. 6. 

2 Proceedings of the Medico-Legal Society, July 7, 1921. 


Secretary. Charles Bradlaugh was condemned to 
jail for a less serious crime. 

(c) Tending towards the Servile State 

Thirdly, the policy of birth control opens the^ 
way to an extension of the Servile State^LBjecauae 
women as well as men could then be placedjander 
conditions of economic slavery. HTtherto, the 
rule has been that during child-bearing age a 
woman must be supported by her husband, and the 
general feeling of thexommunity has been opposed 
to any conditions likely to force married women 
on to the industrial market. In her ownTiome a 
woman works hard, but she is working for the 
benefit of her family and not directly for the bene- 
fit of a stranger. If, instead of bearing children, 
women practise birth control, and if children are 
to be denied to the poor as a privilege of the rich, 
then it would be very easy to exploit the women 
of the poorer classes. If women have no young 
children why should they be exempt from the 
economic pressure that is applied to men ? And 
indeed, where birth control is practised women 
tend more and more to supplant men, especially 
in ill-paid grades of work. One of the birth 
controllers has suggested that young couples, who 

^ " That arrangement of society in which so considerable a 
number of the families and individuals are constrained by 
positive law to labour for the advantage of other families and 
individuals as to stamp the whole community with the mark of 
such labour we call The Servile State." — Hilaire Belloc, The 
Servile State, 191 2, p. 16. 


otherwise could not afford to marry, should 
marry but have no children, and thus continue 
to work at their respective employments during 
the day. As the girl would have little time for 
cooking and other domestic duties, this immoralist 
is practically subverting the very idea of a 
home ! The English poor have already lost even 
the meaning of the word " property," and if the 
birth controllers had their way the meaning of the 
word " home " would soon follow. The aim 
of birth control is generally masked by falsehood, 
but the urging of this policy on the poor points 
unmistakably to the Servile State. When a 
nation, or a section of a nation, is oppressed, their 
birth-rate rises. That is the immutable law 
of nature as witnessed in history. Thus, the 
Israelites increased under the oppression of the 
Pharaohs. Thus, the Irish, from the Union to 
the Famine, multiplied prodigiously under the 
oppression of an iniquitous political and land 
system. By the operation of this law the op- 
pressed grow in numbers, and break their chains. 


(a) There is a Limit to lowering the Death-rate 

Birth controllers believe that a high birth-rate 
is the cause of a high death-rate, and that over- 
population is the cause of poverty. Yet, in spite 
of their beliefs, they make the following statement : 
" Neo-Malthusians have not aimed at reducing 
population, but only at reducing unnecessary 
death, which injures the community without 


adding to its numbers." * In defence of this 
statement they argue that if the death-rate falls 
people will live longer, and therefore the popula- 
tion will not decrease, although the birth-rate is 
lowered. There are two fallacies in their argu- 
ment. They overlook the fact that every one of 
us must die, and that therefore there is a limit 
beyond which a death-rate cannot possibly fall, 
whereas there is no limit, except zero, to the 
possible fall in a birth-rate. If a birthu-rateielL 
to nothing and no children were born, itis- obvious 
that the population would eventually vanish. 
The second fallacy is that a low birth-rate will 
permanently lower the death-rate. At first a 
falling birth-rate increases the proportion of 
young adults in the population, and, as the death- 
rate during early adult life is relatively low, the 
total death-rate tends to fall for a time. Sooner 
or later there is an increase in the proportion of 
old people in the population, and, as the death- 
rate during old age is high, the total death-rate 
tends to rise. That is now happening in England, 
and these are the actual facts as recorded by the 
Registrar-General : 

" It may be pointed out that, though the effect of the 
fall in the birth-rate has hitherto been in a sense advan- 
tageous in that it has increased the proportions living 
at the working ages, a tendency to the reversal of this 
fact has already set in, and may be expected to develop 
as time goes on. . . . 

^ The Secretary of the Malthusian League. Vide The Declin- 
ing Birth-rate^ 1916, p. 89, 


" The general characteristics of the figures indicate 
very clearly the effects of the long-continued decline in 
the birth-rate of this country, and show, by the example 
of France, the type of age-distribution which a further 
continuance of the decline is likely to produce. The 
present age-distribution of the English population is 
still favourable to low death-rates, but is becoming less 
so than it was in 1901. The movements along the curve 
of the point of maximum heaping up population, referred 
to on page 61, has shifted this from age 20-25 to a period 
ten years later, when mortality is appreciably higher." 
— Census of England and Wales, 191 1. General Report, with Ap- 
pendices, pp. 62 and 65. 

Of these facts the birth controllers would 
appear to be ignorant. That is a charitable 
assumption ; but, in viev^ of the vital importance 
of this question their ignorance is culpable. 

(b) Birth Control tends to extinguish the 

Whatever may be the nebulous aim of birth 
controllers, the actual results of birth control are 
quite definite. We have no accurate information 
regarding the extent to which birth control is 
practised, for, needless to say, the Malthusians 
can provide us with no exact figures bearing on 
this question ; but we dpknow that birth control, 
when adopted, is mostly practised amongst the 
better paid artisans and wealthier classes. After 
full examination of the evidence, the National 
Birth-rate Commission were unanimou&ly agreed 
" That the greater incidence of infant mortality 


upon the less prosperous classes does not reduce 
their effective fertility to the level of that of 
the wealthier classes." ^ It is probable that this 
Commission overestimated the extent to which 
birth control has contributed to the declining 
birth-rate; but, even so, this does not alter the 
obvious fact that artificial birth control, when 
adopted, reduces fertility to a lower level than 
Nature intended. If language has any meaning, 
birth control means a falling birth-rate, and a 
falling birth-rate means depopulation. Here and 
there this evil practice may increase the material 
prosperity of an individual, but it lowers the 
prosperity of the nation by reducing the number 
of citizens. Moreover, as birth control is not 
a prevailing vice amongst semi-civilised peoples, 
the adoption of this practice by civilised nations 
means that the proportion of civilised to uncivi- 
lised inhabitants of the world will be reduced. 
If birth control had been extensively practised in 
the past the colonisation of the British Empire 
would have been a physical impossibility ; and 
to-da^-in—eui^-Tast-overseas dominions, are great 
empty spaces whose untilled soil and excellent 
climate await a population. Is that population 
to be white, or yellow ? A question which to-day 
fills the Australian with apprehension. 

(c) A Danger to the Empire 

Many people are honestly perplexed by Neo- 
Malthusian propaganda, and are honestly ignorant 

1 The Declining Birth-rate, 1916, p. 37. 


of the truth concerning the population and the 
food supply of the British Empire. They think 
that ^the population is increasing faster than the 
food supply, there is at least one argument in 
favour of artificial birth control from a practical, 
although possibly not from an ethical, point of 
view. They apply to that propaganda the ordi- 
nary test of the v^orld, namely, ' Will it work ? ' 
rather than that other test which asks, ' Is it 
right ? ' The question I would put to people who 
reason in that way, and they are many, is a 
very simple one. If it can be proved that Neo- 
Malthusian propaganda is based on an absolute 
falsehood, will it not follow that the chief argu- 
ment in favour of artificial birth control has been 
destroyed ? Let us put this matter to the proof. 
Neo-Malthusians state that the population of the 
Empire is increasing more rapidly than the food 
supply. That is a definite statement. It is 
either true or false. To discover the truth, it is 
necessary to refer to the Memorandum of the 
Dominions Royal Commission, and it may be 
noted that publications of that sort are not usually 
read by the general public to whom the Neo- 
Malthusians appeal. The public are aware that 
the staff of life is made from wheat, but they are 
not aware of the following facts, which prove that 
in this matter, at any rate, Neo-Malthusian state- 
ments are absolutely false. In foreign countries 
the increase of the wheat area is proceeding at 
practically the same rate as the increase of popu- 
lation. Within the British Empire the wheat 
area is increasing more rapidly than the population. 



Between 1901 and 191 1 the percentage increase of 
the wheat area was nearly seven times greater than 
the increase of population ; and the percentage 
increase in the actual production of wheat was 
nearly twelve times greater than the increase of 
population. As these facts alone completely 
refute the Neo-Malthusian argument, it is advis- 
able to reproduce here the official statistics.^ 

" The requirements of wheat * for the United Kingdom 
and the extent to which Home and overseas supplies 
contributed towards these requirements during the period 
under review can be briefly summarised by the following 



Annual average. 



Proportion of supply. 





1901-5 . 
1906-10 . 
1911-13 . 












" The main sources of overseas supply are too well 
known to require recapitulation here. The imports 
from the Dominions and India and their proportionate 

1 Dominions Royal Commission, Memorandum and Tables 
relating to the Food and Raw Material Requirements of the 
United Kingdom : prepared by the Royal Commission on the 
Natural Resources, Trade, and Legislation of Certain Portions 
of His Majesty's Dominions. November, 191 5, pp. i and 2. 
My italics.— H. G. S. 

2 i.e. grain, wheatmeal, and flour. 



contribution to the United Kingdom's total imports and 
wheat requirements since 1901 have been as follows : 

















*^ew Zealand 
[ndia . 




















































" The large increase in the proportion received from 
the Dominions is, of course, mainly due to the great 
extension of wheat cultivation in Western Canada since 
the beginning of the century.^ 

Future Supplies 

" As the United Kingdom is dependent for so large 
a proportion of its wheat supplies on the surplus of 
oversea countries, it is of material interest to examine 
whether this surplus is increasing, or whether the growth 
of population is proceeding more rapidly than the ex- 
tension of the wheat-growing area. 

" The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries in 191 2 
estimated * that the extension of the wheat area and 
the growth of population during the period 1901-1911 
was as follows : 

1 For particulars of this increase see Canada Year Book 
I9i3,p. 144. 

2 See pp. 387-8 of [Cd. 6588]. 




Wheat area. 

. age 








^ age 

British Empire (United 
Kingdom, Canada, 
Australia, New Zea- 
land, and India). 

European countries . 








+ 45-5 
+ I7-I 
+ 19*9 





+ 6-6 
+ 15-6 
+ 20-6 

" // is important to find that, while in foreign coun- 
tries, both European and extra-European, the increase of 
wheat area is proceeding at practically the same rate as 
the increase of population, in the British Empire the wheat 
area is developing far more rapidly, so that the Empire 
as a whole is becoming more self-supporting. 

" The total production of wheat within the British 
Empire, which was 227,500,000 cwts. in 1901, had risen 
to 399,700,000 cwts, in 191 1, an increase of 75 per cent, 

" The relative yield per acre in 191 1 was as follows : " 


Yield per acre. 

Average for 

five years, 



United Kingdom .... 


Australia ..... 
New Zealand ..... 
India (including Native States) . 


1 1 74 



1 Average for period 1907-19 10 and excluding British 
Columbia, where the yield per acre in 1911, the only year for 
which figures are available, averaged 29*37 bushels. 

2 Including British Columbia. 

^ Below the average. The yield per acre in 1912 was 12*53 
bushels, and in 191 3 ii'iS. 


The foregoing facts destroy the chief Neo- 
Malthusian argument, and, as birth control tends 
to extinguish the birth-rate, this Neo-Malthusian 
propaganda is a menace to the Empire. In fact, 
the danger is very great for the simple reason 
that the proportion of white people within the 
Empire is very small. 

" The British Empire's share of the world's people 
is very large, but it mainly consists, it should be remem- 
bered, of Asiatics and African natives. The Empire 
as a whole contains about 450 millions of the world's 
1,800 millions, made up roundly as follows : 

United Kingdom . . . 47,000,000 

Self-governing Dominions . 22,000,000 
Rest of the Empire (chiefly India, 

319 milHons) . . . 378,000,000 

Total .... 447,000,000 

" Of the great aggregate Empire population of 447 
millions, the white people account for no more than 
65 milHons. That is to say, outside the United Kingdom 
itself the Empire has only 18 million white people, or 
less than four million families. That figure, of course, 
includes Boers, French-Canadians, and others of foreign 
extraction. This fact is clearly not realised by those 
present-day Malthusians who assure us that too many 
Britons are being born." ^ 

It is also well to remember that depopulation 
in Italy preceded the disintegration of the Roman 
Empire. Historians have estimated that, while 
under the Republic, Italy could raise an army of 
800,000 men, under Titus that number was halved. 

Unfortunately there are some to whom this 
1 The Observer, Nov. il, 1921. 


argument will not appeal, and wandering about 
in our midst are a few lost souls, so bemused by 
the doctrines of international finance that they 
see no virtue in patriotism or, in other words, in 
the love that a man has for his own home. They 
are unmoved by the story of sacrifice, of thrift, 
and of patient trust in God that is told for 
instance in the history of the Protestant manses 
of Scotland, where ministers on slender stipends 
brought up families of ten and twelve, where 
the boys won scholarships at the universities, and 
where women were the mothers of men. 

These days have been recalled by Norman 
Macleod : 

" The minister, like most of his brethren, soon took to 
himself a wife, the daughter of a neighbouring ' gentle- 
man tacksman,' and the grand-daughter of a minister, 
well born and well bred ; and never did man find a 
help more meet for him. In that manse they lived for 
nearly fifty years, and there were born' to them sixteen 
children ; yet neither father nor mother could ever lay 
hand on a child and say, * We wish this one had not 
been.' They were all a source of unmingled joy. . . . " ^ 

" A * wise ' neighbour once remarked, * That minister 
with his large family will ruin himself, and if he dies they 
will be beggars.' Yet there has never been a beggar 
among them to the fourth generation." * 

How did they manage to provide for their 
children ? In this pagan, spoon-fed age, many 
people will laugh when they read the answer — 

^ Reminiscences of a Highland Parish, by Norman Macleod, 
D.D., 1876, p. 27. 
2 Ibid., p. 34. 


in a family letter, written more than a hundred 
years ago by a man who was poor : 

" But the thought — I cannot provide for these ! 
Take care, minister, the anxiety of your affection does 
not unhinge that confidence with which the Christian 
ought to repose upon the wise and good providence of 
God ! What though you are to leave your children poor 
and friendless ? Is the arm of the Lord shortened, 
that He cannot help ? Is His ear heavy, that He cannot 
hear ? You yourself have been no more than an instru- 
ment in the hand of His goodness ; and is His goodness, 
pray, bound up in your feeble arm ? Do you what you 
can ; leave the rest to God. Let them be good, and fear 
the Lord, and keep His commandments, and He will 
provide for them in His own way and in His own time. 
Why, then, wilt thou be cast down, my soul ; why 
disquieted within me f Trust thou in the Lord ! Under 
all the changes and the cares and the troubles of this 
life, may the consolations of reHgion support our spirits. 
In the multitude of the thoughts within me, Thy comforts 
my God, delight my soul ! But no more of this preach- 
ing-like harangue, of which, I doubt not, you wish to 
be reheved. Let me rather reply to your letter, and tell 
you my news." ^ 

That letter was written by Norman Macleod, 
ordained in 1774, and minister of the Church of 
Scotland in Morven for some forty years. His 
stipend was ^40, afterwards raised to ^£80. He had 
a family of sixteen. One of his sons was minister 
in Campbelltown, and later in Glasgow. He had 
a family of eleven. His eldest son was Chaplain 
to Queen Victoria, and wrote the Reminiscences 
of a Highland Parish, 

* Ibid., p. 91. 



The birth controllers ask why we should bring 
up children at great cost and trouble to ourselves, 
and they have been well answered by a non- 
Catholic writer, Dr. W. E. Home. ^ 

*' One of my acquaintances refuses to have a second 
child because he could not then play golf. Is there, 
then, no pleasure in children which shall compensate 
for the troubles and expenses they bring upon you ? I 
notice that the penurious Roman CathoHc French 
Canadian farmers are spreading out of Quebec and 
occupying more and more of Ontario. I fancy these 
hard-Hving parents would think their struggles to bring 
up their large (ten to twenty) famiHes worth while when 
they see how their group is strengthening its position. 
If a race comes to find no instinctive pleasure in children 
it will probably be swept away by others more virile. 
One man will live where another will starve ; prudence 
and selfishness are not identical. 

"In her book. The Strength of a People, Mrs. Bosanquet, 
who signed the Majority Report of the Poor Law Com- 
mission, tells the story of two girls in domestic service 
who became engaged. One was imprudent, married at 
once, lived in lodgings, trusted to the Church and the 
parish doctor to see her through her first confinement, 
had no foresight or management, every succeeding child 
only added to her worries, and her marriage was a 
failure. The other was prudent, did not marry till, after 
six months, she and her fiance had chosen a house and 
its furniture. Then she married, and their house was 
their own careful choice ; every table and chair reminded 
them of the afternoon they had had together when it was 
chosen ; they were amusement enough to themselves, 
and they saved their money for the expenses of her con- 
finement. He had not to seek amusement outside his 
^ British Medical Journal, August 13, 1921, p. 261. 


home, did his work with a high sanction and got pro- 
moted, and each child was only an added pleasure. 
Idyllic ; yes, but sometimes true. One of the happiest 
men I have known was a Marine sergeant with ten child- 
ren, and a bed in his house for stray boys he thought he 
should help. 

" One of my friends married young and had five 
children ; this required management. He certainly 
could not go trips, take courses and extra qualifications, 
but he did his work all right, and his sons were there to 
help in the war, and one of them has won a position of 
Imperial usefulness far above that of his father or me. 
Is that no compensation to his parents for old-time 
difficulties they have by now almost forgotten ? A bad 
tree cannot bring forth good fruit." 

Dr. W. E. Home is right, and the Neo-Malthu- 
sian golfer is wrong. Moreover, he is wrong as 
a golfer. Golf requires skill, a fine co-ordination 
of sight and touch, much patience and self-control: 
and many unfortunate people lack these qualities 
of mind and body, and are therefore unable to 
play this game with pleasure to themselves or to 
others. Consequently every golfer, no matter 
whether he accepts the hypothesis of Spencer or 
that of Weismann concerning the inheritance of 
acquired characteristics, should rejoice to see his 
large family in the links as a good omen for the 
future of this game, although there be some 
other reasons that also justify the existence of 

(d) The Dangers of Small Families 

In a Malthusian leaflet, written for the poor 
Dr. Binnie Dunlop states : 


" You must at least admit that there would be nothing 
like the usual poverty if married couples had only one 
child for every 20s. or so, a week of wages. Yet the 
population would continue to increase rapidly, because 
very few of the children of small families die or grow up 
weakly ; and it would become stronger, richer, and of 
course much happier." ^ 

The false suggestion contained in his first 
sentence, namely that^a high birth-rate is the 
cause of poverty, ^ has ^ already been exposed 
(Chap. II), and apparently Dr. Binnie Dunlop 
has never considered w^^Jy so _mai^ of the English 
people should be so poor as to enable liini to make 
use of their very poverty in order to tempt them 
to adopt an evil rnetiod of birth control. More- 
over, his second contention, that a small family 
produces a higher type of child, better fed, better 
trained, and healthier, than is found amongst the 
children of large families is contrary to the follow- 
ing facts, as stated by Professor Meyrick Booth : 

" I. A civilisation cannot be maintained with an 
average of less than about four children per marriage ; 
a smaller number will lead to actual extinction. 

" 2. Much information exists tending to show that 
heredity strongly favours the third, fourth, fifth, and 
subsequent children born to a given couple, rather than 
the first two, who are peculiarly apt to inherit some of 
the commonest physical and mental defects (upon this 
important point the records of the University of London 
Eugenics Laboratory should be consulted). A popula- 
tion with a low birth-rate thus naturally tends to 
degenerate. It is the normal, and not the small Jamilyy 
that givestki hejt children. 

1 Leaflet of the Malthusian League. 


" 3. The present differential birth-rate — high amongst 
the less intelligent classes and low amongst the most 
capable families — so far from leading upwards, is causing 
the race to breed to a lower type. 

" 4. The small family encourages the growth of luxury 
and the development of what M. Leroy-Beaulieu calls 
V esprit arriviste. 

" 5. The popular idea that childbirth is injurious to a 
woman's health is probably quite erroneous. Where the 
birth-rate is high the health of the woman is apparently 
better than where it is artificially low. 

" 6. A study of history does not show that nations 
with low birth-rates have been able to attain to a higher 
level of civilisation. Such nations have been thrust 
into the background by their hardier neighbours." ^ 

Moreover, M. Leroy-Beaulieu, in La Question 
de la Population,^ states that those districts of 
France v^hich show an exceptionally low birth- 
rate are distinguished by a peculiar atmosphere 
of materialism, and that their inhabitants exhibit, 
in a high degree, an attitude of mind well named 
Vesprit arriviste — the desire to concentrate on 
outward success, to push on, to be climbers, to 
advance themselves and their children in fashion- 
able society. This spirit means the willing sacrifice 
of all ideals of ethics or of patriotism to family 
egoism. To this mental attitude, and to the 
corresponding absence of religion, he attributes 
the decline of population. In conclusion the 

1 7 he Hihbert Journal^ October 1914, p. 153. My italics. — 
H. G. S. 

* Quoted by Professor Meyrick Booth, The Hibbert Journal, 
October 1914, p. 153. 


following evidence is quoted by Professor Meyrick 
Booth : 

" The Revue des Deux Monies for July 191 1 contains 
a valuable account, by a doctor resident in Gascony, of 
the state of things in that part of France (where, it will 
be remembered, the birth-rate is especially low). He 
expresses with the utmost emphasis the conviction that 
the Gascons are deteriorating, physically and mentally, 
and points out, at the same time, that the decline of 
population has had an injurious effect upon the economic 
condition of the country. * L'hyponatalit6 est une 
cause precise et directe de la degenerescence de la race,' 
he writes. And, dealing with the behef that a low birth- 
rate will result in the development of a superior type of 
child, he says : * Cest une illusion qui ne resiste pas ^ la 
lumiere des faits tels que les montre Petude demogra- 
phique de nos villages gascons. Depuis que beaucoup de 
bancs restent vides a la petite ecole, les ecoliers ne sont 
ni mieux doues, ni plus travailleurs, et ils sont certaine- 
ment moins vigoureux.' And again, * La quantite est 
en general la condition premiere et souveraine de la 
quality.' " ^ 


All purposive actions are ultimately based on 
philosophy of one sort or another. If, for ex- 
ample, we find a rich man founding hospitals for 
the poor, we may assume that he believes in the 
principle of Charity. It is, therefore, of prime 
importance to determine what kind of philosophy 
underlies Neo-Malthusian propaganda. The 
birth controllers profess to be actuated solely 
by feelings of compassion and of benevolence 
^ The Hihhert Journal^ October 191 4. 


towards suffering humanity ; and it is on these 
grounds that they are appealing to the Church of 
England to bless their work, or at least to lend to 
their propaganda a cloak of respectability. Now, 
the very fact that Neo-Malthusians are sincere 
in their mistaken and dangerous convictions 
makes it all the more necessary that we should 
discover the doctrines on which their propaganda 
was originally based ; because, although their 
economic fallacies were borrowed from Malthus, 
their philosophy came from a different source. 

This philosophy is to be found, naked and un- 
ashamed, in a book entitled The Elements of Social 
Science. I have already referred to this work as 
the Bible of Neo-Malthusians, and its teaching 
has been endorsed as recently as 1905 by the 
official journal of the Malthusian League, as 
witness the following eulogy, whose last lines 
recall the happy days of Bret Harte in the Far 
West, and the eloquent periods of our old and 
valued friend Colonel Starbottle : 

" This work should be read by all followers of J. S. 
Mill, Gamier, and the Neo-Malthusian school of econo- 
mists. We could give a long criticism of the many im- 
portant chapters in this book; but, as we might be 
considered as prejudiced in its favour because of our 
agreement with its aims, we prefer to cite the opinion 
given by the editor of that widely circulated and most 
enlightened paper The Weekly Times and Echo, which 
appears in its issue of October 8." ^ 

Before quoting from the book an explanation 
is due to my readers. I do not suggest that all 
1 7 he Malthusian, November 1905, p. 84. 


of those who are to-day supporting the propa- 
ganda for artificial birth control would agree 
with its foolish blasphemies and drivelling 
imbecilities ; but it is nevertheless necessary to 
quote these things, because our birth controllers 
are too wise in their day and generation to reveal 
to the public, still less to the Church of England, 
the philosophy on which N eo-Malthusianism was 
originally based, and from which it has grown. 
Moreover, the Malthusians claim that it was the 
author of the Elements of Social Science " who 
interested Mr. Charles Bradlaugh and Mrs. 
Annie Besant in the question." ^ Four quotations 
from the last edition of the book will suffice : 

" But this is a certain truth, that any human being, 
any one of us, no matter how fallen and degraded, is an 
infinitely more glorious and adorable being than any 
God that ever was or will be conceived '^ (p. 413). 

In justice to the memory of John Stuart Mill, 
whom Malthusians are ever quoting, it should be 
noted that the foregoing blasphemy is nothing 
more nor less than a burlesque of Positivism or 
of Agnosticism. The teaching of Mill, Bain, and 
of Herbert Spencer was that the knowledge of 
God and of His nature is impossible, because our 
senses are the only source of knowledge. Their 
reasoning was wrong — because a primary condi- 
tion of all knowledge is memory, in itself an 
intuition, because primary mathematical axioms 
are intellectual intuitions, and because mind has 

1 C. V. Drysdale, O.B.E., D.Sc, The Small Family System, 
1918, p. 150. 


the power of abstraction ; but, even so, not one 
of these men was capable of having written the 
above-quoted passage. The next quotation refers 
to marriage. 

" Marriage is based upon the idea that constant and 
unvarying love is the only one which is pure and honour- 
able, and which should be recognised as morally good. 
But there could not be a greater error than this. Love 
is, like all other human passions and appetites, subject 
to change, deriving a great part of its force and con- 
tinuance from variety in its objects ; and to attempt 
to fix it to an invariable channel is to try to alter the laws 
of its nature " (p. 353). 

That quotation is an example of how evil ideas 
may arise from muddled thinking : because if the 
word " lust " be substituted for the word " love " 
in the third sentence, the remaining forty-five 
words would merely convey a simple truth, 
expressed by Kipling in two lines : 

" For the more you 'ave known o' the others 
The less will you settle to one." 

Very few people, I suppose, are so foolish as to 
believe that man is by nature either a chaste or a 
constant animal, and indeed in this respect he 
appears to his disadvantage when compared with 
certain varieties of birds, which are by nature 
constant to each other. On the other hand, 
millions of people believe that man is able to 
overcome his animal nature ; and for the past two 
thousand years the civilised races of the world 
have held that this is a goal towards which man- 
kind should strive. In the opinion of Christendom 


chastity and marriage are both morally good, but, 
according to the philosophy of our Neo-Malthu- 
sian author, they are morally evil. 

" Chastity, or complete sexual abstinence, so far from 
being a virtue, is invariably a great natural sin " (p. 162). 

Is it not obvious that to the writers of such 
passages love is synonymous with animalism, with 
lust ? It is by no means necessary to go to saints 
or to moralists for a refutation of this Neo- 
Malthusian philosophy. Does any decent ordi- 
nary man or woman agree with it ? Ask the man 
in the street. Turn the pages of our literature. 
Refer to Chaucer or Spenser, to Shakespeare or 
Milton, refer to Fielding or Burns or Scott or 
Tennyson. Some of these men were very im- 
perfect ; but they all knew the difference between 
lust and love ; and it is because they can tell us 
at least something of that which is precious, 
enduring, ethereal, and divine in love that we read 
their pages and honour their names. Not one of 
these men could have written the following sen- 
tence : 

" Marriage distracts our attention from the real sexual 
duties, and this is one of its worst effects " (p. 366). 

Now it is certain that if " the real sexual duties" 
are represented by promiscuous fornication, then 
both marriage and chastity are evil things. That 
philosophy is very old. From time immemorial 
it has been advocated by one of the most powerful 
intelligences in the universe. Such is the soil on 
which the Neo-Malthusian fungus has grown — 
a soil that would rot the foundations of Europe. 




BIRTH control is against the law of nature, 
which Christians believe to be the reflection 
of the divine law in human affairs, and any 
violation of this law was held to\be vicious even 
by the ancient pagan world. To this argument 
an advocate of birth control has made answer : 

" We interfere with nature at every point — we shave, 
cut our hair, cook our food, fill cavities in our teeth (or 
wear artificial teeth), clothe ourselves, wear boots, hats, 
and wash our faces, so why should birth alone be sacred 
from the touch and play of human moulding ? " ^ 

Why ? For a very simple reason. Birth con- 
trol belongs to the moral sphere ; it essentially 
affects man's progress in good, whereas all the 
other things that he mentions have no more 
moral significance than has the practice of agricul- 
ture. Regarded in the light of the law of nature 
they are neutral actions, neither good nor bad in 
themselves, raising no question of right or wrong, 
and having no real bearing on the accomplish- 
ment of human destiny. To make no distinction 
between the merely physical law of nature 
(expressed in the invariable tendency of every- 
thing to act according to its kind) and the natural 
moral law which governs human conduct, is to 
pronounce oneself a materialist. Yet even a 

1 British Medical Journal^ August 6, 1921, p. 219. 


materialist ought to denounce the practice of 
birth control, as it violates . the laws_of_ nature 
which regulate physical well-being. " But," says 
the materialist, " it is not possible for anyone to 
act against nature, because all actions take place 
in nature, and therefore every act Is" ~^a natural 
act." Quite so : in that sense murder is a natural 
act ; even unnatural vice is a natural act. Will 
any one defend them ? There is a natural law in 
the physical world, and there is a natural law in 
conscience — a law of right conduct. Certain 
actions are under the control of the human will, 
which is able to rebel against the moral law of 
nature, and the pagan poet iEschylus traces all 
human sorrow to '' the perverse human will 

As birth control jneans the deliberate frustra- 
tion of a natural act which -might- haveissu^din 
a new life, it is an unnatural crime, and is stigma- 
tised by theologians as a sin akin to murder. To 
this charge birth controllers further reply that 
millions of the elements of procreation are 
destroyed by Nature herself, and that *'to add one 
more to these millions sacrificed by Nature is 
surely no crime." This attempt at argument 
is pathetic. If these people knew even the 
A. B.C. of biology, they would know that 
millions of those elements are allowed to perish 
by Nature for a definite purpose — namely, to make 
procreation more certain. It is in order that the 
one may achieve the desired end that it is rein- 
forced by millions of others. Moreover, although 
millions of deaths in the world occur every year 

i:he religious argument 125 

from natural causes, it would nevertheless, I fear, 
be a crime if I were to cause one more death hy 
murdering a birth controller. 


IcLjcommon with irrationaL^animals-we -have 
instincts, appetites, and passiqnsx but, unlike the 
animals, we have the power to reflect whether an 
action is right or wrong in itself apart from its 
consequences. This power of moral judgment 
is called conscience ; and it is conscience which 
reflects the natural law (the Divine Nature 
expressed in creation). As conscience, when 
violated, can and does give rise to an unpleasant 
feeling of shame in the mind, we have good 
reason to believe that it exists for the purpose of 
preventing us from doing shameful actions, just 
as our eyes are intended, amongst other things, 
to prevent us from walking over precipices. 
Moreover, if the conscience is active, instructed, 
and unbiassed, it will invariably give the correct 
answer to any question of right or wrong. 

It is possible to ^ssert^ without iear of contra- 
diction, that no ordinary decent man, or woman 

approadies, or begins the practice of artificial 
birth control without experiencing at first un- 
pleasant feelings of uneasiness, hesitation^, repug- 
nance, shame, and remorse. Later on these feel- 
ings may be overcome by habit, for the voice of 
conscience will cease when it has been frequently 
ignored. This does not alter the fact that at 
first the natural moral instincts of both men and 


women do revolt again^L Jk^se_i)iactices. ^'^^ 
the conscience of mankind .birt£--Gaatr^-4&— a- 
shameful action. 


The dictates of conscience go to form the 
science of ethics. According to ethics^, the prac- 
tice of birth control means the doing of an acT" 
whilst at the same time frustrating the object for 
which the act is intended. It is like using Ian- ^ 
guage to conceal the truth, or using appetite so as 
to injure rather than to promote health. During 
the decline of the Roman Empire men gorged 
themselves with food, took an emetic, vomited, 
and then sat down to eat again. They satiated 
their appetite and frustrated the object for 
which appetite is intended. The practice- of 
birth control is parallel to this piggishness. No 
one can deny that the sexual impulse has for 
aim the procreation of children. . The birth 
controllers seek to gratify the impulse, yet to 
defeat the aim ; and they are so honest in their 
mistaken convictions that, when faced with this 
argument, they boldly adopt an attitude which 
spells intellectual and moral anarchy. They 
say that it is simply a waste of time to discuss 
the moral aspect of this practice, . ^thout 
b eing abl e tn dkpi]tp the^^ru th that birt h control 

i^ a^ajn?^t DiiP^^f^y rnnQriVnr^_^^nrl ethlCS^^SlT; 

^ttemj)t_ to prove tha t at any rate the results 
xxLthis.4H:acfiS-.-ar e b eiieiicialy of Ih'jotEer' words \ 
that_g^.,gaQd.jei]Ld-j-ustifies the^u^eof evil^rneans.y 
This is a doctrine that has been universally repu- 


dialed by mankind.^ Nevertheless, if birth control, 
in spite of its being an offence against moral and 
natural law, was really beneficial to humanity, 
then birth controllers would be able to claim 
pragmatic justification for the practices, and 
to argue that what actually and universally tends 
to the good of mankind cannot be bad in itself. 
Birth control, as I have already ^how^, does nolT 
conform to these conditions; therefore that_ 
argument also fails. 


The Protestants, at the time of the Reformation, 
retained and even exaggerated certain beliefs of 
the undivided Catholic Church. None of them 
doubted, for instance, that the Bible was the Word 
of God and therefore a guide to moral conduct. 
They knewj^ba t artifirial birth control ^isJorb JclderL. 
by .tEelBIblej and that in the QldTTestamejgitjJie-^ 

punishment for that sin was--dealh2- Tn 1876, . 

when Charles Bradlaugh advocated in a notorious, 
pamphlet the practice of birth control, his views- 
were denounced from every Protestant pulpit iii_ 
the land, and were widely repudiated by the upp.ex, 
and middle classes of England. But it would seem 

^ There is, or perhaps we should say there was, a legacy of 
1,000 Rhenish guilders awaiting anyone who, in the judgment of 
the faculty of law in the University of Heidelberg or of Bonn, is 
able to establish the fact that any Jesuit ever taught this doctrine 
or anything equivalent to it. Vide The Afitidote, vol. iii, p. 125, 
C.T.S., London. 

2 Gen. xxxviii. 9-10. 


that Protestant morality is now disappearing with 
the spread of indifferentism, and the Protestant 
Churches have no longer the same influence on 
the public and private life of the nation. Pro- 
testantism has lasted for 400 years, but though 
it has lasted longer than any other form of belief 
which took rise in the sixteenth century, it is 
now also dying. 

In 1919 the number of people over seven years 
of age in England who professed belief in any 
church was 10,833,795 (out of 40,000,000), and 
the church attendance equalled 7,000,000, or 
about I out of every 5 people.^ 

Again, a Commission appointed by the Pro- 
testant Churches to inquire into the religious 
beliefs held in the British armies of the Great 
War has endorsed the following statements : 

" Everyone must be struck with the appalling ignor- 
ance of the simplest religious truths. Probably 80 per 
cent, of these men from the Midlands had never heard of 
the sacraments ... It is not only that the men do not 
know the meaning of *_Church of England ' ; they are 
ignorant of the histpricaljacts of the life of. our Lord. 
Nor must it be assumed that this ignorance is confined 
to men who have passed through the elementary schools. 
The same verdict is recorded upon those who have been 
educated in our public schools. . . . The men are hope- 
lessly perplexed by the lack of Christian unity." ' 

In my opinion these statements are exaggera- 
tions, but that was not the view of the Commis- 

* Vide Catholic Times, August 27, 192 1, p. 7. 
2 The Army and Religion, 191 9, p. 448. 

t:he religious argument 129 

sion. As regards Scotland, it has recently been 
stated at the Lothian Synod of the United Free 
Church that in 191 1 at least 37 per cent, of the 
men and women of Scotland were without 
church connection.^ 

In 1870, of every 1,000 marriages, 760 were 
according to the rites of the Established Church, 
but in 1 91 9 the proportion had fallen to 597. 
During the same period civil marriages without 
religious ceremonial increased from 98 to 231 per 
1,000.* These figures are an index of the religious 
complexion of the country. The Protestant 
Churches are being strangled by the development 
of a germ that was inherent in them from the 
beginning, and that growth is Rationalism. The 
majority of the upper, professional, and artisan 
class can no longer be claimed as staunch Pro- 
testants, but as vague theists ; and amongst these 
educated people, misled by false ideas of pleasure 
and by pernicious nonsense written about self- 
realisation, the practice of birth control has spread 
most alarmingly. This is an evil against which all 
religious bodies who retain a belief in the funda- 
mental facts of Christianity might surely unite in 

In a Catholic country there would be no need, in 
the furtherance of public welfare, to write on the 
evils of birth control. The teaching of the Catho- 
lic Church would be generally accepted, and a 
moral law generally accepted by the inhabitants 

^ Universe, November 4, 1 921, p. 3. 

• Eighty-second Annual Report of ihi Registrar-Gtneral of 
England and WaUSf 1919, p. xxv. 


of a country gives strength to the State. But 
Great Britain, no longer Catholic, is now in some 
danger of ceasing to be even a Christian, country^ 
In 1885 it was asserted, " England alone is re- 
ported to contain some seven hundred sects, each 
of whom proves a whole system of theology and 
morals from the Bible." ^ Each of these that 
now survives gives its own particular explanation 
of the law of God, which it honestly tries to 
follow, but at one point or another each and every 
sect differs from its neighbours. On account of 
these differences of opinion many people say : 
" The Churches cannot agree amongst themselves 
as to what is truth ; they cannot all be right ; it 
is, therefore, impossible for me to know with cer- 
tainty what to believe ; and, to be quite honest, 
it may save me a lot of bother just at present 
to have no very firm belief at all." This means 
that in Great Britain there is no uniform moral 
law covering all human conduct and generally ac- 
cepted by the mass of the people. As the practice 
of artificial birth-rate control is not only contrary 
to Christian morality, but is also a menace to 
the prosperity and well-being of the nation, the 
absence of a uniform moral law, common to all 
the people and forbidding this practice, is a source 
of grave weakness in the State. 

1 The Times, January 13, 1885. 



As was jp^roved in a previous chapter (p. 120) 
artificial bSE control was originally based on 
Atheism, and on a philosophy of moraL anarchy. 
Further proof of this fact is to be found in the 
course of a most edifying dispute between two 
rival Neo-Malthusians. This quarrel is between 
Dr. Marie C. Stopes, President of the Society 
for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Pro- 
gress, who is not a Doctor of Medicine but of 
Philosophy, and Dr. Binnie Dunlop, who is a 
Bachelor of Medicine : and when birth controllers 
fall out we may humbly hope that truth will 
prevail. Dr. Stopes maintains that artificial 
birth control was not an atheistic movement, 
whereas Dr. Binnie Dunlop contends that the 
pioneers of the movement were Atheists. The 
beginning of the trouble was a letter written by 
Dr. Stopes to the British Medical Journal, in 
which she made the following statement : 

" Dr. Martindale is reported in your pages to have 
given an address to medical women in which she pointed 
out that the birth control movement in England dated 
from the Bradlaugh trial in 1877. Had she attended 
the presidential address of the Society for Constructive 
Birth Control she would have learned that there was a 
very flourishing movement, centring round Dr. Trail 
in 1866, years before Bradlaugh touched the subject, 
and also a considerable movement earlier than that. 


This point is important, as * birth control ' has hitherto 
(erroneously) been much prejudiced in popular opinion 
by being supposed to be an atheistical movement origi- 
nated by Bradlaugh." ^ 

Dr. Stopes, who has been working overtime in 
the attempt to obtain some religious sanction for 
her propaganda, is ready not only to throw the 
Atheists overboard, but also to assert that a 
flourishing movement for artificial birth control 
centred round the late Dr. Trail, who was a 
Christian. Her letter was answered by Dr. 
Binnie Dunlop as follows : 

"Dr. Marie C. Stopes, whose valuable books I con- 
stantly recommend, protests (page 872) against the state- 
ment that the birth control movement in England dated 
from the trial of Charles Bradlaugh in 1877 — for re- 
publishing Dr. Knowlton's pamphlet. The Fruits of 
Philosophy because the Government had interdicted 
it. She must admit, however, that there was no organised 
movement anywhere until Bradlaugh and the Doctors 
Drysdale, immediately after the trial, founded the Mal- 
thusian League, and that the decline of Europe's birth- 
rate began in that year. It may now seem unfortunate 
that the pioneers of the contraceptives idea, from 181 8 
onwards (James Mill, Francis Place, Richard Carlile, 
Robert Dale Owen, John Stuart Mill, Dr. Knowlton, 
Dr. George Drysdale, Dr. C. R. Drysdale, and Charles 
Bradlaugh), were all Free-thinkers ; and Dr. Stopes 
harps on the religious and praiseworthy Dr. Trail, an 
American, who published Sexual Physiology in 1866. 
But Dr. Trail was not at all a strong advocate of contra- 
ceptive methods. After a brief but helpful reference to 

1 British Medical J ournaly November 19, 1921, p. 872. 

i:he religious argument 133 

the idea of placing a mechanical obstruction, such as a 
sponge, against the os uteri, he said : 

" Let it be distinctly understood that I do not approve 
any method for preventing pregnancy except that of 
abstinence, nor any means for producing abortion, on the 
ground that it is or can be in any sense physiological. 
It is only the least of two evils. When people will 
live physiologically there will be no need of preventive 
measures, nor will there be any need for works of this 
kind." 1 

That is a most informative letter. In simple 
language Dr. Binnie Dunlop tells the remarkable 
story of how in 1876 three Atheists, merely by 
forming a little Society in London, were able 
to cause an immediate fall in the birth-rate of 
Europe. When you come to think of it, that was 
a stupendous thing for any three men to have 
achieved. I am very glad that Dr. Binnie Dunlop 
has defended the Atheists and has painted the 
late Dr. Trail, despite that " brief but helpful 
reference," in his true colours as a Christian. 
Nevertheless, Dr. Stopes had the last word : 

" As regards Dr. Dunlop, he now shifts the Atheists' 
position by adding the word * organised.' The Atheists 
never tire of repeating certain definite misstatements, 
examples of which are : * If it were not for the fact that 
the despised Atheists, Charles Bradlaugh and Annie 
Besant, faced imprisonment, misrepresentation, insult, 
and ostracism for this cause forty-four years ago, she 
[Dr. Stopes] would not be able to conduct her campaign 
to-day' {Literary Guide, November, 1921) ; and * Be- 
fore the Knowlton trial, neither rich nor poor knew 
^ British Medical Journal, November 26, 1 921, p. 924. 


anything worth counting about contraceptive devices * 
(Malthusian^ November 15, 1921). Variations of these 
statements have been incessantly made, and I dealt 
with their contentions in the presidential address for 
the C.B.C. Meanwhile to them I reply that : * There 
has never been in this country any law against the dis- 
semination of properly presented birth control informa- 
tion, and before, during, and after the Bradlaugh trial 
properly presented information on birth control was 
extending its range with full liberty.' My address is 
now in the press, and when published will make public 
not only new matter from manuscript letters of very 
early date in my possession, but other overlooked his- 
torical facts. I have already told Dr. Dunlop I refuse 
to be drawn into a discussion on facts an account 
of which is still in the press." ^ 

The lady, by her dissertation on the Laws of 
England, makes a clumsy effort to evade the point 
at issue, which is quite simple, namely, whether 
it was Atheists or Christians who initiated the 
Neo-Malthusian movement, organised or unor- 
ganised. Dr. Binnie Dunlop has here proved his 
case. I also do maintain that in this matter all 
credit must be given to the Atheists ; and that it 
would be truly contemptible to deny this fact 
merely in order to pander to a popular prejudice 
against Atheism. Nor am I shaken in this 
opinion when Dr. Stopes points out that there 
was a Neo-Malthusian movement prior to 1876. 
Of course there was a movement, but it was 
always an atheistic movement. In the past no 
Christian doctor, and indeed no Christian man 

^ British Medical Journal, December 10, 1921, p. 1016. 


or woman, advocated artificial birth control. Let 
us give the Neo-Malthusian his due. 

Until recently both the Church of England 
and the medical profession presented practically a 
united front against Neo-Malthusian teaching; 
and, as late as 1 914, the Malthusian League did not 
hesitate to make use of the following calumnies, 
very mean, very spiteful, very imbecile : 

"Take the clergy* J^ey_Jixe the officers of^ Church 
that has made marriage a source of revenue and of social 
control ; they preach from a sacred book that bids the 
chosen people of God * multiply and replenish the earth '; 
they know that large families generally tend to preserve 
clerical influence, and authority ; and they claim that 
every baby is a new soul presented to God and, therefore, 
for His honour and glory, the greatest possible number 
of souls should be produced." ^ 

That feeble attempt to poison the atmosphere 
was naturally ignored by intelligent people ; and 
more than once Lambeth has ruled that artificial 
birth control is sin. Unfortunately, within the 
Church of England, in spite of the Lambeth 
ruling, there is still discussion as to whether 
artificial birth control is or is not sin^jthe Bishops, 
as a whole, making a loyal effort to uphold Christian 
teaching against a campaign waged by Malthusians 
in order to obtain religious sanction for their evil 
propaganda. Although many Malthusians are 
rationalists, they are well aware that without some 
religious sanction their policy could never emerge 
from the dim underworld of unmentioned and un- 

^ Common S^nse on the Population Question, p. 4. 


respected things, and could never be advocated 
openly in the light of day. To this end birth 
control is camouflaged by pseudo-poetic and 
pseudo-religious phraseology, and the Anglican 
Church is asked to alter her teaching. Birth 
controllers realise that it is useless to ask this of 
the Catholic Church, a Rock in their path, but 
" as regards the Church of England, which makes 
no claim to infallibility, the case is different, and 
discussion is possible." ^ 

Let us consider, firstly, the teaching of the 
Church of England on this matter. At the Lam- 
beth Conference of 1908 the Bishops affirmed "that 
deliberate tampering with nascent life is repug- 
nant to Christian morality." In 1914 a Commit- 
tee of Bishops issued a Memorandum * in which 
artificial birth control is condemned as " dan- 
gerous, demoralising, and sinful." The memor- 
andum was approved by a large majority of the 
Diocesan Bishops, although in the opinion of 
Dean Inge " thj.s is ernphatically a matter in which 
every man and woman must judge for themselves, 
and must refrain from judgmg others." « The 
Bishops also held that in some marriages it may 
be desirable, on grounds of prudence or of health, 
to limit the number of children. In these cir- 
ClimrtnnrrY tVir r advised the practice ol self- 
dnirlininlj ninlj r^ rp^f^f^s alimited i ^^pof rnarriagi^. 

•nJu t^ Jlld i1 llii rii11 iii^g <;tatPTnpnt - 

I " It seems to most of us only a legitimate application 

1 Dr. C. K. Millard, in The Modern Churchman, May 1919. 
* Reproduced in The Declining Birth-ratCj 1916, p. 386. 
^ Outspoken Essays, 1919, p. 75. 


of such self-restraint that in certain cases (which only 
the parties' own judgment and conscience can settle) 
intercourse should be restricted by consent to certain 
times at which it is less likely to lead to conception. 
This is only to use natural conditions ; it is approved by 
good medical authority ; it means self-denial and not 
self-indulgence. And we believe it to be quite legiti- 
mate, or at least not to be condemned." 

A small minority of Bishops held that prolonged 
or even perpetual abstinence from intercourse is 
the only legitimate method of limiting a family. 
Finally, in Resolution 68 of the Lambeth Confer- 
ence in 1920, the Bishops stated that : 

" We utter an emphatic warning against the use of 
unnatural means for the avoidance of conception, 
together with the grave dangers — physical, moral, and 
rehgious — thereby incurred, and against the evils with 
which the extension of such use threatens the race. 
In opposition to the teaching which, under the name of 
science and religion, encourages married people in the 
deliberate cultivation of sexual union as an end in itself, 
we steadfastly uphold what must always be regarded as 
the governing consideration of Christian marriage. One 
is the primary purpose for which marriage exists — 
namely, the continuation of the race through the gift 
and heritage of children ; the other is the paramount 
importance in married life of deliberate and thoughtful 
self-control." ^ 

And the Committee on '* Problems of Marriage 
and Sexual Morality " felt called upon " to utter 
an earnest warning against the use of any unnatural 
means by v^hich conception is frustrated." ^ 

1 Report, p. 44. 2 Ibid., p. 112. 



If Resolution 68 be read in conjunction with 
the Memorandum of 1 914, the teaching of the 
Church of England is plain to any sane man or 
woman ; it is one with the teaching of the Church 
Catholic. Artificial birth control is condemned 
as sin, but, under certain circumstances, the 
limitation of a family by continence or by 7*^- 
stricted intercourse is permitted. As this teaching 
forbids Neo-Malthusian practices, birth con- 
trollers have tried to make the Church alter 
hqr teaching to suit their opinions. Although 
their methods in controversy against the Church 
must be condemned by everyone who values 
intellectual honesty, the reader, of his charity, 
should remember that Malthusians are unable to 
defend their policy, either on logical or on moral 
grounds. Without attempting to prove that the 
teaching of the Church is wrong, birth controllers 
began the attack by a complete misrepresentation 
of what that teaching actually is. This unen- 
viable task was undertaken by Lord Dawson of 
Penn, at the Birmingham Church Congress of 

After quoting Resolution 68, Lord Dawson 
said : 

" Now the plain meaning of this statement is that 
sexual union should take place for the sole purpose of 
procreation, that sexual union as an end in itself — not, 
mind you, the only end — (there we should all agree), but 
sexual union as an end in itself is to be condemned. 

" That means that sexual intercourse should rightly 
take place only for the purpose of procreation. 
"^ Quite a large family could easily result from quite a 


few sexual unions. For the rest the couple should be 
celibate. Any intercourse not having procreation as 
its intention is * sexual union as an end in itself/ and 
therefore by inference condemned by the Lambeth Con- 

" Think of the facts of life. Let us recall our own 
love — our marriage, our honeymoon. Has not sexual 
union over and over again been the physical expression 
of our love without thought or intention of procreation ? 
Have we all been wrong ? Or is it that the Church lacks 
that vital contact with the realities of life which accounts 
for the gulf between her and the people ? 

" The love envisaged by the Lambeth Conference is 
au invertebrate, joyless thing — not worth the having. 
Fortunately it is in contrast to the real thing as practised 
by clergy and laity. 

" Fancy an ardent lover (and what respect have you 
for a lover who is not ardent ?) — the type you would like 
your daughter to marry — virile, ambitious, chivalrous — 
a man who means to work hard and love hard. Fancy 
putting before these lovers — eager and expectant of the 
joys before them — the Lambeth picture of marriage. 
Do you expect to gain their confidence ? " ^ 

That sort of appeal is not very effective, even 
as rhetoric ; but it is very easy to give an exact 
parallel. Fancy a fond father (and v^hat respect 
have you for a father who is not fond ? ) being told 
by his daughter's suitor that he, his prospective 
son-in-lav^, looked forv^ard to the physical joys 
of marriage, but intended to insist on his w^ife 
using contraceptives. Would any father regard 
such a one as the type he v^ould like his daughter 
to marry ? 

^ Evening Standard, October 12, 1 92 1. 


There is, unfortunately, another answer to 
Lord Dawson, and I put it in the form of a 
question. Can any intelligent man or woman, 
Catholic, Protestant, or rationalist, maintain that 
Lord Dawson has given a fair, a true, or an honest 
statement of the teaching of the Church of 
England ? Moreover, it is past all understanding 
how a gross libel on Anglican doctrine has been 
overlooked by those most concerned. The 
address is actually hailed as "wise, bold, and 
humane in the highest sense of the word" by The 
Spectator ^^ and that amazing journal, " expert as 
ever in making the worse appear the better cause 
in a way that appeals to clergymen," goes on to 
say : " Lord Dawson fearlessly and plainly 
opposed the teachings of the Roman Church and 
the alleged teachings of the Anglican." 

Having by a travesty of truth created a false 
theological bogey, bearing little resemblance 
either to Catholic or to Anglican teaching, Lord 
Dawson proceeds to demolish his own creation 
by a somewhat boisterous eulogy of sex-love. 
Now sex-love is an instinct and involves no 
question of good or evil apart from the circum- 
stances in which it is either gratified or denied ; 
but, in view of the freedom with which Lord 
Dawson discussed this topic, it is only right to 
note that it was left to the Rev. R. J. Campbell 
to add to the gaiety of nations by his subsequent 
protest that the Marriage Service " contains 
expressions which are offensive to modern delicacy 
of feeling." 

* October 15, 192 1. 


That protest is also a first-rate example of the 
anarchical state of the modern mind. The Rev. 
R. J. Campbell is a modern mind, so is Mr. George 
Bernard Shaw ; but the latter refers to " the 
sober decency, earnestness, and authority " ^ of 
those very passages to v^hich the former objects. 

Lord Dawson's eulogy of sexual intercourse 
was but a prelude to his plea for the use of 
contraceptives : 

" I will next consider Artificial Control. The forces 
in modem life which make for birth control are so stfQirg" 
that only convincing reasons will make people desist 
from it. It is said to be unnatural and intrinsically 
immoral. This word * unnatural' perplexes me. Why? 
Civilisation involves the chaining of natural forces and 
their conversion to man's will and uses. Much of 
medicine and surgery consists of means to overcome 

That paragraph illustrates precisely the confused 
use of the word *' natural," which I have already 
criticised (p. 124). Lord Dawson says he is 
perplexed, and I agree with him. Civilisation, he 
says, involves the conversion of natural forces to 
man's will. So does every crime. Is that any 
defence of crime ? Even if physical nature be 
described as non-moral, that description cannot 
be applied to the inward nature of will and 
conscience. That I will an act may show it is 
in accordance with nature in a certain sense, but 
the fact of its being in accordance with physical 
nature does not justify my act. Does Lord 
^ Man and Swpnmany Act III, p. 125. 


Dawson agree ? Or does he think that any 
action in accordance with the physical laws of 
nature, which means any action whatsoever, is 
justified ; and does he approve therefore of mere 
moral anarchy ? His confusion of thought con- 
cerning the use of the word " natural " is followed 
by the inevitable sequence of false analogies : 

" When anaesthetics were first used at child-birth 
there was an outcry on the part of many worthy and 
religious people that their use under such circumstances 
was unnatural and wicked, because God meant woman 
to suffer the struggles and pains of child-birth. Now we 
all admit it is right to control the process of child-birth, 
and to save the mother as much pain as possible. It is 
no more unnatural to control conception by artificial 
means than to control child-birth by artificial means. 
Surely the whole question turns on whether these 
artificial means are for the good or harm of the individual 
and the community. 

"Generally speaking, birth control before the first child 
is inadvisable. On the other hand, the justifiable use 
of birth control would seem to be to limit the number 
of children when such is desirable, and to spread out 
their arrival in such a way as to serve their true interests 
and those of their home. 

" Once more^ careful distinction needs to be laad e 
between t he use and the bad effects of the abuse of birth 
cofitTCfl. Ihat Its abuse produces grave harm 1 fully 
agree — harm to parents, to families, and to the nation. 
But abuse is not a just condemnation of legitimate use. 
I Over-eating, over-drinking, over-smoking, over-sleeping, 
over-work do not carry condemnation of eating, drinking, 
smoking, sleeping, work." 

These long extracts are here quoted because, 


as The Spectator has remarked, " an attempt at a 
detailed summary might destroy the careful 
balance which is essential to Lord Dawson's 
purpose." It might indeed ; and many a true 
word is written inadvertently and despite the 
wisdom of the serpent. As Lord Dawson believes 
that Malthusian practice is not of necessity sinful, 
and as he is urging the Church to remove a ban 
on that practice, it is necessary for him to prove 
in the first place that his opinion is right and that 
the teaching of the Church is wrong. Elsewhere 
in these pages I have stated the reasons why 
Christian morality brands the act of artificial 
birth control as intrinsically a sin, a malum in se, 
and those reasons have never been disproved by 
Lord Dawson or by anyone. His comparison 
between the use of contraceptives and eating or 
drinking is a false analogy. Ealing is a natural 
j^ctj, not in itself_sinful, whereas the use of .con- 
traceptives is an unnatural act, in itself a sin. 
The extent to which artificial birth control is 
practised neither increases nor diminishes the 
sinful nature of the act, but merely indicates the 
number of times the same sin is committed. 
Lord Dawson admits the danger of Neo-Mal- 
thusian methods being carried to excess, and 
counsels that these practices be used in modera- 
tion; but is it likely that those who have dis- 
carded the teaching of a Church and the dictates 
of the moral law will be seriously influenced by 
what he calls " an appeal to patriotism " ? 

Now there is one appeal to patriotism which 
Lord Dawson could have made but did not 


make. He might have pleaded that for the sake 
of the nation all attempts at unnatural birth 
control amongst the wealthier and more leisured 
citizens should be abandoned forthwith, and that 
the lawful form should be confined to those few 
cases where limitation of the family is justified on 
genuine medical grounds. But he refrained 
from making that appeal, and his plea for the use 
of contraceptives in moderation is more likely to 
be quoted with approval in the boudoirs of 
Mayfair than in humbler homes. 

Lord Dawson's grave error in failing to antici- 
pate the inevitable consequences of his deplorable 
speech is becoming more and more apparent. In 
the columns of The Daily Herald, cheek by jowl 
with advertisements concerning " Herbalists," 
" Safe and Sure Treatment for Anaemia, Irregu- 
larities, etc.," " Knowledge for Young Wives," and 
" Surgical Goods and Appliances," there appears 
the following notice : 

" Lord Dawson, the King's Physician, says, * Birth 
control has come to stay.' Following up this honest 
and daring declaration, the Liberator League have 
decided to distribute 10,000 copies of its publications 
free to applicants sending stamped addressed envelopes 
to J. W. Gott, Secretary . . . London, N.W.5." 

A Stamped addressed envelope brought in 
return sample copies of two undated newsprints, 
entitled The Rib Tickler and The Liberator, and, 
to the honour of newsvendors, we learn that these 
papers are " not supplied by newsagents." The 
first print is devoted to Blasphemy, and the second 


to Birth Control. Both papers are edited by 
J. W. Gott, " of London, Leeds, Liverpool, and 
other prisons," who, when he is not in jail for 
selling blasphemous or obscene literature, earns 
a livelihood by a propaganda of " Secularism, 
Socialism, and Neo-Malthusianism," combined 
with the sale of contraceptives. At Birmingham 
in 1 92 1 this individual, according to his own 
statement, was charged, on eleven summonses, 
with having sent " an obscene book " and " ob- 
scene literature " through the post, and with 
" publishing a blasphemous libel of and concerning 
the Holy Scriptures and the Christian Religion." 
" The Malthusian League (at their own expense, 
for which I here wish to thank them) sent their 
Hon. Secretary, Dr. Binnie Dunlop, who gave 
evidence "... that the Council of the Malthu- 
sian League ..." most strongly protests against 
the description of G. Hardy's book. How to pre- 
vent Pregnancy, as obscene, for that book gives in 
a perfectly refined and scientific way this urgently 
needed information." This opinion was not 
shared by the jury, who brought in a verdict of 
guilty, and Gott was sentenced to six months' 
imprisonment. From the Liberator we learn that 
the Treasurer of the Liberator League was fined 
j^20, having been found guilty on the following 
summons — " for that you on the eleventh day 
of September 1920, at the Parish of Consett, in 
the County aforesaid, unlawfully, wickedly, mali- 
ciously, and scandalously did sell to divers persons, 
whose names are unknown, in a public street, 
there situate, a certain lewd, wicked, scandalous, 


146 biri:h control 

and obscene print entitled ' Large or Small 
Families,' against the Peace of our Sovereign 
Lord the King, His Crown and Dignity." 

Lord Dawson's advice was indeed perilous 
because " the British Empire and all its traditions 
will decline and fall if the Motherland is faithless 
to motherhood" ^ ; and the nation would do 
better to pay heed to the following words of His 
Majesty the King : " The foundations of national 
glory are in the homes of the people. They will 
only remain unshaken while the family life of our 
race and nation is strong, simple, and pure." 

All Lord Dawson's arguments are hoary fal- 
lacies. " Once more, careful distinction needs 
to be made between" — anaesthetics and contra- 
ceptives. Anaesthetics assist the birth of a child, 
whereas contraceptives frustrate the act of pro- 
creation. The old explanation that man's pro- 
gress has been achieved by harnessing and not by 
opposing the forces of nature is dismissed with 
ignominy. The age-long teaching of Hippocrates 
that the healing art was based on the Fis 
Medicatrix Natures is overthrown by Lord Daw- 
son of Penn, in a single sentence ; and in place 
of the Father of Medicine as a guide to health of 
body and mind, there comes the King's Physician 

"To pestle a poison'd poison behind his crimson lights." 

When a great leader announces the birth of 
a new epoch, it is meet that the rank and file 
remain silent ; and at this Congress of the Church 

^ Sunday Express ^ October 16, 1921. 


of England no jarring interruptions marred the 
solemnity of the moment. No old-fashioned 
doctor was there to utter a futile protest, and 
there was no simple-minded clergyman to rise 
in the name of Christ and give Lord Dawson the 
lie. Without dissent, on a public platform of the 
Established Church, presided over by a Bishop, 
and in full view of the nation, '' the moth-eaten 
mantle of Malthus, the godless robe of Bradlaugh, 
and the discarded garments of Mrs. Besant,"* 
were donned — by the successor of Lister. It was 
a proud moment for the birth controllers, but 
for that national institution called " Ecclesia 
Anglicana " a moment full of shame. 

^ On becoming a Theosophist, Mrs. Besant retracted her 
approval of Neo-Malthusianism. 




ONE of the marks of the Catholic Church, 
whereby she may be distinguished from 
all other Churches, is that her teaching is 
always clear and above all logical. Yet this fact 
has not saved her teaching from misrepresentation 
in the hands of Malthusians. For example. 
Dr. C. Killick Millard writes as follows : 

" The Churches have taught that it was the divine 
wish that human beings should multiply and_^opuIatipn 
increase — the more rapidly the better .; the. traditional 
authority for this being the instruction given to Ho^h-and 
his family, after the Deluge, to ' be fruitful and multiply 
and replenish the earth.' The Churches have continued. 
to teach that the duty of man was to obey the divine com- 
mand and still to increase and multiply ^ and until recently 
any attempt by married couples to restrict or regulate 
the birth-rate was denounced as sinful. 

" This is still the orthodox attitude, I believe, of the 
Roman Catholic Church, with its cehbate priesthood ; 
but, as it is clearly useless to reason with those who claim 
infalHbility, it is unnecessary to discuss the question 
further so far as Roman Catholicism is concerned." * 

Now, although it may be unnecessary for Dr. 
Millard to discuss the question further, he will, 
I am sure, regret having inadvertently misstated 
the truth. The Catholic Church has never de- 
nounced as sinful ^'' any attempt by married couples 

^ The Modern Churchman^ May 1 919. 


to restrict _ox regulate-^tke-JDirtli^rate," Oa^-the 

contrar^^ the Catholic Church has taught, by her 
greatest doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, " that the 
essence of marriage is not primarily in the be- 
getting of offspring, but in the indissoluble union 
between husband-aiid wife." ^ 


There is an obvious d istinction between the 
essence of a thing and the ends or purposes for 
which the thing exists. For example, in a busi- 
ness partnership the essence of the partnership is 
a legal instrument, whereas the purposes or ends 
of the partnership are various commercial projects. 
The following is a clear statement, by Father 
Vincent McNabb, O.P.,' of Catholic teaching 
concerning the nature and end of marriage : 

" Marriage is an indissoluble state of life wherein a 
man and a woman agree to give each other power over 
their bodies for the begetting, birth, and upbringing of 
offspring. The natural and primary end of marriage is 
this duty towards offspring. But, as sin has despoiled 
the human will and disturbed human relations, marriage 
has now the secondary end of allaying sexual lust. 

*' But it is a principle of ethics that what is primary 
cannot be set aside as if it were secondary, nor can the 
secondary be sought as if it were primary. To invert 
the ethical order is to bring in that disorder which is 
called sin. If the human act brings in a slight disorder, 

1 Rev. Vincent McNabb, O.P., The Catholic Gazette, Sep- 
tember 1921, p. 194 
a Ibid. 


it is venial sin ; if the human act brings in a grievous 
disorder it is a grievous or mortal sin. 

" It is a grievous disorder, and, therefore, a grievous 
sin^to desire satisfactioji in, sucL^sexua l intercourse aj __ 
could not -result in the begetting of offspring. 

" As the wedded pair have given eachi other power over 
their bodies it would be a grave sin for one to refuse 
either altogether or for a considerable time the fulfilment 
of the marriage debt. But it is not a sin if by mutual 
agreement the wedded pair refrain from the marriage^ 
debt for a time, or for ever. As a rule, and speaking 
objectively, it would be h.eroic virtue for a wedded pair 
to abstain for a long time, and.^till more for ever, from 
the marriage debt. To counsel such a practice indis- 
criminately would be a sinful want of prudence, and, in 
a confessor, of professional knowledge. 

" It is quite clear that by mutual consent, even with- 
out any further motive, the wedded pair can abstain 
from marital intercourse. Still more may they abstain 
for a time or for ever, for a good motive, e.g. in order to 
have time for prayer, for good works, for bringing up 
such family as they already have to support." 


Artificial birth control is an offence against the 
hw of God, and is therefore forbidden by the 
Catholic Church. Any Catholic w^ho w^ilfuUy 
adopts this practice violates the law of God in a 
""serious matter, and is therefore guilty of mortal 
"sin, an outrageous and deliberate insult offered by 
a human creature to the Infinite Majesty. 

The Catholic Church teaches that men and 
women^^ shouHTcontrol the sex impulse just as 
thej^should control their appetite,, for food or 



drink. The principal end of marriage, as we have 

seen, is the purpose of its institution, the^^or 

creation and 4>ringiftg — ttp — e^ — children. The 
secondary end of marriage is mutual assistance and 
companionship, and a remedy against concupis- 
cence. Where it is advisable, owing to -the health 
of tlifi^mother -or owing to reasons of prudence as 
distinct from selfishnesv to limit -the number of 
children, the Catholic Church points out that this 
^ould be done by the exercise of self-control, 
or by restricted .use. As those who deny the possi- 
bility or even the wisdom of self-restraint are not 
likely to pay the slightest attention to the teach- 
ing of the Church, I will quote the opinions of 
two clear-thinking, non-Catholic writers. 
Mr. George Bernard Shaw has said : 

" I have no prejudices. The superstitious view of the 
Catholic Church is that a priest is something entirely 
different from an ordinary man. I know a great many 
Catholic priests, and they are men who have had a great 
deal of experience. Theyhave at the back a Church which 
has had for many years to consider the giving of domestic 
advice to people. If you go to a Catholic priest and tell 
him that a life of sexual abstinence means a life of utter 
misery, he laughs. And obviously for a very good 
reason. If you go to Westminster Cathedral you will 
hear voices which sound extremely well, and very 
differently from the voices of the gentlemen who sing at 
music-halls, and who would not be able to sing in that 
way if they did not lead a life extremely different from 
the Catholic priest. . . . 

" I may say that I ^ ^r. j^ f^Tronr nf KirtV> ^^ntrnl T 

am in favour of it ^r>r itg nwr) ga ]<e. I do not like to 
sfte any human being absolutely the slave ot what we 


used to ca ll * Nati^r fl ' — Kvpry human ^agti on mipht tQ_ 
be mntffnied, ajidynn nifikfi A S^ep ^n ^3 aIifi»l4Air_,wilvh 
s oirreTfein gjv^ch ]^£ been uncor?tTf^l ]ial2].t- ^ ^^ there- 
fore in f avour^oTlcontrol for its own sake. But when 
you go from that to the methods of control, that is a 
very different thing. As Dr. Routh said, we have to 
find out methods which will not induce people to declare 
that they cannot exist without sexual intercourse." ^ 

Of course the use of contraceptives is the very 
negation of self-control. 

The late Sir William Osier, speaking of venereal 
disease, says : 

" Personal purity is the prophylaxis which we as 
physicians are especially bound to advocate. Contin- 
ence may be a hard condition . . . but it can be borne, 
and it is our duty to urge this lesson upon young and old 
who seek our advice on matters sexual." 


There are methods of control w^hereby people 
are enabled to exist, and to exist happily, without 
being slaves to the sex impulse. These methods 
are those of the Catholic Church. Her people 
are encouraged to take a higher and a nobler view 
of marriage, to overcome their egoism and selfish- 
ness, and to practise moderation and self-restraint 
in the lawful use of mxarital rights. The Church 
urges her people to strengthen their self-restraint 
by observing the penitential seasons, especially 
Lent ; by fasting or by abstaining from flesh meat 
^ Speech at the Medico -Legal Society, July 7, 192 1. 


at other times, if necessary by abstaining from 
alcohol ; and by seeking that supernatural help 
which comes to those who receive the Sacraments 
worthily. When all other deterrents fail, it is 
lawful, according to the teaching of the Church,^ 
for married people to limit intercourse to the 
mid-menstrual period, when, although conception 
may occur, it is less likely to occur than at other 

All other methods are absolutely and^^thout 
exception forbidden. This limited use of mar- 
riage, which, as we have seen, is v^ithin th^e rights 
of the married, differs from all methods of 
artificial birth-contrQL,as-day~differs from Jiight, 
because : 

(i) No positive or direct obstacle is used against 

(2) The intercourse is natural, in contra- 
distinction to what is equivalent to self-abuse. 

(3) Self-restraint is practised in that the inter- 
course is limited to certain times. 

(4) There is no risk to mental or physical health. 

(5) There is no evil will to defeat the course of 
nature ; at worst there is merely an absence of 

Even if the question be considered solely as a 
matter of physiology the difference between these 
methods is apparent. Physiologists and gynae- 
cologists believe that in natural intercourse there 
is, apart from fertilisation, an absorption of cer- 
tain substances into the system of the woman. 
The role of this absorption is at present obscure, 
but it obviously exists for a purpose ; and it is 


permissible to speculate whether, under natural 
conditions of intercourse, there is not a mutual 
biological reaction that makes, amongst other 
things, for ph}'sical compatibility. Whatever 
be its purpose or explanation in the marvellous 
mechanism of nature, this absorption of vital sub- 
stances is either hindered or is absolutely prevented 
by artificial methods of birth control ; v^hereas, in 
the method permitted by the teaching of the 
Catholic Church there is no interference v^ith a 
physiological process. Even those who fail, from 
their lack of training, to comprehend moral dis- 
tinctions in this matter should be able to appre- 
ciate the difference between a method that is 
physiological and one that is unphysiological. 

There are thousands who know little of the 
Catholic or of any other faith, and thousands who 
believe the Catholic Church to be everything ex- 
cept what it is. These people have no infallible 
rule of faith and morals, and when confronted, as 
they now are, by a dangerous, insidious campaign 
in favour of birth control, they do not react con- 
sistently or at all. It was therefore thought ad- 
visable to issue this statement in defence of the 
position of the Catholic^ Church ; b ut th e reader 
should remember that the teaching oFtHeTChurch 
on this matter is held by her members to be true, 
not merely because it agrees with the. notions of 
all right-thinking men and women, not because 
it is in harmony with economic, statistical, social, 
and biological truth, but principally because they 
know this teaching to be an authoritative declara- 
tion of the law of God. The Ten Commandments 


have their pragmatic justification ; they make for 
the good of the race; but the Christian obeys 
them as expressions of the Divine Will. 


Our declining birth-rate is a fact of the utmost 
gravity, and a more serious position has never con- 
fronted the British people. Here in the midst 
of a great nation, at the end of a victorious war, 
the lav^ of decline is working, and by that law the 
greatest empires in the world have perished. In 
comparison with that single fact all other dangers, 
be they of war, of politics, or of disease, are of 
little moment. Attempts have already been made 
to avert the consequences by the partial endow- 
ment of motherhood and by a saving of infant 
life. Physiologists are now seeking among the en- 
docrinous glands and the vitamines for a substance 
to assist procreation. "Where are my children ? " 
was the question shouted yesterday from the 
cinemas. " Let us have children, children at any 
price," willJbe_tEercry of to-morrow. And all 
these thoughts were once in the mind of Augustus, 
Emperor of the world from the Atlantic to the 
Euphrates, from Mount Atlas to the Danube and 
the Rhine. 

The Catholic Church has never taught that 
" an avalanche ofchildren " should be brought 
into the world regardle&s of consequences. God 
is not mocked ; as men sow, so shall they reap, and 
against a law of nature both the transient ameliora- 
tion wrought by philanthropists and the subtle 


expediences of scientific politicians are alike futile. 
If our civilisation is to survive we must abandon 
those ideals that lead to decline. There is only one 
civilisation immune from decay, and that civilisa- 
tion endures on the practical eugenics once taught 
by a united Christendom and now expounded 
almost solely by the Catholic Church. 



Marriage and the Sex Problem. By Dr. F. W. Foerster. 
Translated by Margaret Booth, B.Sc, Ph.D. Lon- 
don, 1912. 

7 he Menace of the Empty Cradle. By Bernard Vaughan, 
S.J. London, 191 7. 

Coffins or Cradles. By Sir James Marchant. 191 6. 

Moral Principles and Medical Practice. By C. Coppens, 
S.J., and H. Spalding, S.J. 

^he Family and the Nation. By W. C. D. Wheth?m and 
Mrs. Whetham. London, 1909. 

The Law of Births and Deaths. By Charles Edward Pell. 
London, 1921. 

7he Declining Birth-rate. Report of the National Birth- 
rate Commission. London, 1916. 

^he Church and Labour {A Compendium of Official 
Utterances). Edited by John A. Ryan, LL.D., 
and Joseph Husslein, Ph.D. London, 1921. 


{Obtainable from 69, Southzvark Bridge Road, S.E.i.) 

The Condition of the Working Classes. (The Encyclical 
Rerum Nov arum.) By Pope Leo XIII. Edited by 
Mgr. Canon Parkinson, D.D. 6d. 

Social Questions and the Duty of Catholics. By C. S. 
Devas, M.A. 6d. 

{The Following are Twopence each.) 

Birth-rate, The Declining. By H. Thurston, S.J. 
Christian Democracy before the Reformation. By Cardinal 

Gasquet, O.S.B. 
Christian Democracy : Its Meaning and Aim. By C. S. 

Christian Womanhood. 



Church and Social Reformers^ The. By the Bishop of 

Conjugal Life, The Duties of. By Cardinal Mercier. 
Divorce. By the Bishop of Northampton. 
English Economics and Catholic Ethics. By M. Maher. 
Labour, The Church and. By Abbot Snow, O.S.B. 
Landlords, A Dialogue on. By R. P. Garrold, S.J. 
The Catholic Church and the Principle oj Private Property, 

By Hilaire Belloc. 
Rome and the Social Question. 
Social Reform, Pope Pius X on. 
Social Sense, The : Its Decay and its Revival. By A. P. 

Mooney, M.D. 
Socialism, The Catholic Church and. By Hilaire Belloc. 
Socialism, An Examination of. By the same. 
Socialism, Some Ethical Criticisms of. By A. P. Mooney, 

Trade Unionism. By Henry Somerville. 
Woman in the Catholic Church. By H. F. Hall. 

The Church and Science. By Sir Bertram Windle, M.D., 
F.R.S., K.S.G. js. 6d. 

Tzvelve Catholic Men of Science. Edited by Sir Bertram 
Windle, M.D., F.R.S. Sir Dominic Corrigan — 
Thomas Dwight — Galvani — Lappa rent — Laennec 
— Linacre — Mendel — Johannes Miiller — Pasteur — 
Secchi — Nicolaus Stenson — Vesalius. is. 6d. 

Facts and Theories. A Consideration of Some Biological 
Conceptions of To-day. By Sir Bertram Windle, 
M.D., F.R.S., K.S.G. 2s. 

The Modernist. By Joseph Rickaby, S.J. is. 

The World and Its Maker. By J. Gerard, S.J. 4^. 

{The Following are Twopence each) 
Anti-Catholic History : How it is written. By Hilaire 

Darwinism, The Decline of. By Walter Sweetman. 


Evolution and Exact Thought. By J. Gerard, S.J. 

Freedom of Thought. By. J. Vance, M.A., Ph.D. 

Freethought, Modern. By J. Gerard, S.J., F.L.S. 

Haeckel and his Philosophy. By J. Gerard, S.J. 

Life, The Origin of. By J. Gerard, S. J., F.L.S. 

Positivism. By Joseph Rickaby, S.J. 

Rationalist Propaganda^ The, and How it must be met. By 
J. Gerard, S.J. 

Rationalist, The (Joseph M'Cabe), as Prophet. By J. 
Keating, S.J. 

Science and Its Counterfeit. By J. Gerard, S.J. 

Science or Romance : The Game of Speculation. By J. 
Gerard, S.J. 

Scientific Facts and Scientific Hypotheses. By Sir Ber- 
tram Windle, M.D., F.R.S. 

Scientific Opinion, The Ebb and Flow of. By Sir Ber- 
tram Windle, M.D., F.R.S. 

Babylonia and Assyria. By A. Condamin, S.J. 

The Catholic Church. By Canon Gildea. 

France, Plain Words on Church and State in. 

France, The Real Authors of the Separation in. By 0. 
Kellet, S.J. 

" Good Queen Bess,"" The Days of. By William Cob- 

Kulturkampf, The. By Humphrey Johnson, B.A. 

Luther, Four Centuries of. By Canon WilHam Barry, 

Medieval England, Catholic Faith and Practice in. By 
H. J. Kilduff. 

Monasteries, The Suppression of the English. By Wil- 
liam Cobbett. 

The Pilgrim Fathers. By H. Thurston, S.J. 

Reformation, Social Effects of the. By William Cobbett. 

{Leaflets 3J-. per loo.) 
Do Babies build Slums? By Halliday Sutherland, M.D. 



{Obtainable from Catholic Social Guilds Oxford.) 

A Primer of Social Science. By Mgr. Parkinson. 3J-. 6d, 
Prostitution : The Moral Bearings of the Problem. By 

M. F. and J. F. Foreword by the late Archbishop 

of Liverpool, zs. 6d. 
The Church and Eugenics. (New and revised edition, 

1921.) ByT. Gerrard. is.6d. 
The Christian Family. By Margaret Fletcher. li". 6d. 
Sweated Labour and the Trade Boards Act. Edited by 

T. Wright. U. 
Guild Socialism. A Criticism of the National Guild 

Theory. By Francis Goldwell. 6d. 
Elements of Housing. By C. Tigar, S.J. 6d. 
The Gospel and the Citizen. By C. C. Martindale, S.J. 

The Church and the Worker. By V. M. Crawford. 4^. 
Questions of the Day. By J. Keating, S.J., and S. A. 

Parker, O.S.B. 4^. 
Elements of Economics. By Lewis Watt, S.J. \d. 
The Nation^ s Crisis. By Cardinal Bourne. 3^. 
The Catholic Attitude to the Ministry of Health. By J. B. 

McLaughlin, O.S.B., and A. P. Mooney, M.D. 2d, 


La Depopulation de la France. Jacques Bertillon. 191 1. 
La Population franQaise. Levasseur. 1891. 
La Question de la Population. Leroy-Beaulieu. 
Depopulation et Civilisation. 1890. Ars^ne Dumont, 
Natalie. Dr. Bertillon Pere. 

Printed in England for the Ambrosden Press by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld. 
London and Aylesbury-, 


Birth control 


HQ 766 .S88 SMC 

Sutherland^ Halliday^ 

Birth control : a 


AKF-1783 (ab) 



' '>" 

'~ ' 


-■■ ■